If an individual or company is violating the law, then sounding the alarm can feel like a moral imperative. While more Americans are speaking out about deceitful business practices and fraud, it is still intimidating to use your voice to speak against those in power. That is why hiring a quality Colorado whistleblower lawyer is an important step in the process. Having a skilled qui tam attorney by your side can help you speak your truth even if your voice shakes.
Learn more about how to report fraud by filing a qui tam claim and how a quality whistleblower attorney can help you navigate each step in the process.
Blowing the Whistle: What is a Qui Tam Claim?
First of all, what does it mean to ‘blow the whistle’? In a nutshell, whistleblowing happens when one person reports the wrongdoing of another person or organization that holds power over them. Considering the power dynamic, the whistleblower often has a lot to lose.
Do you think whistleblowing is far too dangerous to pull off? You might be surprised to learn that the tides are swiftly changing. Throughout 2021, the SEC alone received a record-breaking amount of tips and claims from Americans. In 2020, the SEC also reported a 76% increase in claims.
Qui tam claims are a type of whistleblower lawsuit in which the person reporting fraud is doing so on behalf of the government. The fraud could be in the healthcare sector, defense, or even a civilian working on a government contract.
Since whistleblowing can lead to positive change, the whistleblower can receive a reward for their honesty by claiming a portion of any settlement that is reached as a result of the qui tam case.
How Much Money Can a Colorado Whistleblower Receive?
How can a person get financially rewarded for sounding the alarm? This is most often made possible through the False Claims Act (FCA). This important act states that anyone who submits false claims to the government will be held liable for treble the amount of the government’s damages plus an inflation-adjusted penalty for each claim. A portion of these funds (up to 30%) is paid to the whistleblower.
Other whistleblower programs include the IRS Whistleblower Program and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Whistleblower Program, both of which offer whistleblowers up to 30% of the amount recovered in a successful lawsuit.
When to File a Whistleblower Lawsuit in Colorado
Below, we will go over some of the most common types of government fraud alleged in Colorado qui tam lawsuits. If you notice any of these types of fraud in your line of work, you should strongly speak with a whistleblower lawyer.
Billing for Services Not Rendered
One major FCA violation happens when one person or company falsely charges a government program for services that were never provided. This type of misconduct is a common form of healthcare fraud and may involve billing Medicare or Medicaid for more expensive services than were actually performed for the patient or reporting care that the patient never received, such as physical therapy, tests, procedures, or medical devices.
Government contractors may also submit false claims for work never performed. This could include billing for services performed by senior professionals when they were actually billed by less qualified staff members, or overstating the number of hours or types of services that were performed.
Submitting False Claims when Applying for Government Benefits and Funding
Another common violation of the FCA happens when organizations apply for government benefits that they may not qualify for. This is a form of government programs fraud, and it describes actions like:
- Submitting false claims to receive benefits from the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation
- Making false statements to receive Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other small business loans
- Using fake credentials to apply for federally funded student loan programs
- Misrepresenting qualifications or underbidding to receive government contracts
Misusing Government Money
Using government funds for any other reason than it is explicitly given and/or wasting government funds can be a violation of the FCA. Common examples include:
- Using research grant money for purposes other than to support the research described in the grant
- Purchasing expensive equipment or hiring more expensive contractors for a school or government-funded program instead of a cheaper alternative
- Otherwise using government funds in an improper way
Not Paying Taxes
In addition to claiming more money than what a company may be entitled to, withholding money is also an example of fraud. Individuals and organizations most commonly do this by committing tax fraud.
Tax fraud may include:
- Claiming deductions or credits that someone does not qualify for
- Underreporting income
- Using illegal tax shelters
What Are Colorado Whistleblowers’ Rights?
Whistleblowing is always the right thing to do, but it can sometimes have negative consequences if you do not have a good lawyer backing you up or if you do not understand your rights. A whistleblower has several rights under the federal FCA and the Colorado False Claims Act, including:
- The right to remain free from professional retaliation for blowing the whistle
- The right to confidential handling of the information you disclosed
- The right to independently report your claim
- The right to financial awards if your claim is valid and succeeds in court
It does not matter if your claims later turn out to be false if you truly believed they were accurate and you acted in good faith when you reported the information.
What Evidence Does a Whistleblower Need to File a Lawsuit?
Throughout your whistleblower journey, you will face many challenges including determining what type of evidence you need to support your claims. If you can, then gather all relevant data and documentation that you can such as:
- Financial records
- Communications between you and the bad actor or agency
- Relevant work documents
An attorney can advise you on the types of evidence that may be beneficial to your case.
How Can a Colorado Whistleblower Lawyer Help Me?
The number one factor to consider in whistleblowing is the uneven balance of power. In almost every case, the whistleblower is coming from a position of lesser power, and the person or organization they are speaking out against holds some degree of authority over them. A quality Colorado whistleblower lawyer can help even the playing field by protecting your rights throughout the litigation, including your anonymity when possible, and using your information to build a strong case.
Choose Your Legal Representative Wisely
Choosing a quality Colorado whistleblower attorney is crucial. Always verify that the lawyer you are considering hiring has extensive experience representing clients in similar whistleblower situations. To get an idea of this, check out the firm’s practice areas and their past case results, too. Reviewing the firm’s past client reviews can also give you a better idea of the service they provide. Here at Tycko & Zavareei LLP, we are confident that we can meet (and exceed) these qualifications.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Whistleblower Lawyer
Now that you know how a whistleblower lawyer can help support you when considering reporting fraud in Colorado, the only thing left to do is to find your ideal legal representative. Here at Tycko & Zavareei LLP, we are confident that our highly qualified lawyers can meet and even exceed your expectations.
Request a confidential case evaluation by anonymously leaving your contact details on our online form.