When an employee blows the whistle on an employer and files a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the government, the government can choose whether or not to join the lawsuit. If the government investigates the case and decides not to join, the whistleblower can still go ahead with the lawsuit and, if successful, receive a percentage of any amount that is recovered.
Government customers of United Parcel Service Co. (UPS) overpaid the company because it falsified delivery records over a 10-year period, according to a lawsuit UPS recently settled. The whistleblower suit was filed by a former driver and manager for UPS. Now he is expected to receive $3.75 million for bringing the allegedly false claims to the attention of the federal government.
According to current figures from the U.S. Department of Justice, since 2009, legal claims brought under the federal False Claims Act have led to the recovery of more than $23.9 billion. About 63 percent of that -- more than $15.2 billion -- has been recovered from cases involving fraud against health care programs, including Medicaid and Medicare.
Since the mid-1980s, the federal False Claims Act has been the government's primary tool for fighting fraud against government programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. The law's qui tam provisions allow whistleblowers to bring lawsuits against companies and individuals that defraud the government, and whistleblowers have collectively received billions of dollars in rewards for blowing the whistle on fraud.
The federal False Claims Act allows individuals, called relators, to bring lawsuits -- qui tam claims -- on behalf of the government, and the relators may collect a portion of any amount of money the government recovers. Since the mid-1980s, the United States government has recovered more than $15 billion through qui tam claims, and that figure continues to rise.
A qui tam lawsuit filed against Wells Fargo by two whistleblowers has been unsealed. The suit claims that Wachovia, which was bought by Wells Fargo in 2008, defrauded the federal government by accepting billions from federal programs while engaging in and concealing fraudulent banking practices, including falsifying certifications of the bank's financial statements. Wells Fargo is accused of not being upfront about the fraud inherited from Wachovia.
Under the qui tam provisions in the federal False Claims Act (FCA), employees, corporations, and private or public interest organizations may sue a company that defrauds the federal government. The legal action is brought on behalf of the government and the whistleblower, and an individual who brings a qui tam claim may stand to receive a sizable reward.