If you believe you have uncovered a scam or a fraudulent scheme to bilk the US government, you may very well have a financially valuable whistleblower case on your hands. A lot of people will tell you what to do next. Here is what not to do:
Don’t discuss your findings with other co-workers to confirm your suspicions. This is exactly the opposite of what you should do. First off, you have no idea whether that co-worker also has suspicions or whether they are clueless. If you start talking you may shine a light on the fraud for others and risk not being the “first to file.” Only the first person to bring to light a qui tam (whistleblower claim) will stand to benefit financially if the case goes forward. Keep your suspicions to yourself and your mouth shut.
Don’t “take” all the documents you can find so you have proof of the fraud. It’s true you need evidence. You need solid evidence and plenty of it to pursue a whistleblower claim and certainly to convince the federal government to join the action. However, never take any original documents. You don’t want to be accused of stealing and that’s exactly what your employer might do when confronted with the evidence. They can say you are the one in the wrong. Make copies of everything you think corroborates your claims. Your qui tam lawyer may make suggestions of what you should be looking for as well.
Don’t rely on just any lawyer to file your whistleblower claim. There are plenty of lawyers out there who will give you lip service about qui tam cases. They can take a rumor and turn it into a case, so they say. However, an experienced whistleblower lawyer will seek to make sure your case can stand up to scrutiny. They will ask tough questions and expect you to be able to convince they that your case has merit. This is not the time for a “yes man.” If your lawyer is skeptical of your case, there may be a reason. Choose a lawyer who will challenge your case before you file the lawsuit. It could save you time, money and embarrassment.
Here is one important “do” for all prospective whistleblower. Do make sure the qui tam lawyer you choose is willing to work on contingency as opposed to hourly. Experienced, successful whistleblower lawyers are willing to do the work without upfront legal payments. They get their share when you win.
At Begelman & Orlow, we pride ourselves on providing the highest quality legal representation for all of our clients. If you think you may have a whistleblower case, contact our Cherry Hill office today for a free consultation.