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Whistleblowers Could be the First Responders Against Fraud

To rise from error to truth is rare and beautiful.

Victor Hugo

 

We know who the first responders are. When a student opened fire at a Nevada middle school on Monday morning, October 21, 2013, teacher Michael Landsberry sacrificed his life to protect the children in the school. Teacher Victoria Soto hid her 16 students when the shooting started at Sandy Hook Elementary School approximately one year ago. When the gunman entered her classroom she confronted him and said the kids were at the gym. Soto was murdered and all of her students survived. At the Boston Marathon, runners crossed the finish line and immediately gave blood. 

America is a nation of first responders. We confront tragedy, injustice and fraud with self-sacrifice for righteousness, truth and justice. 

The injustice and fraud 

According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration estimates the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Treasury loses approximately $5 billion a year because of tax fraud. Whistleblowers, using the False Claims Act and other statutes, can be the first responders to this tragedy and report tax cheats. 

The qui tam provisions 

The False Claims Act was enacted in 1863 to prevent suppliers to the Union Army during the American Civil War from defrauding the Army. It has been amended numerous times, including in 1986, to create liability for any person who submits a false record to get a false claim paid by the U.S. government. The qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act enable a private citizen to sue for violations of the FCA on behalf of the government. In other words, if you witness a person, company or contractor cheating the government, you may sue on behalf of the government. 

How it works 

A qui tam complaint is filed under seal for 60 days to enable the government to investigate it. The government may choose to intervene and pursue the action or the government may decline in which case the relator, the person who originally filed the complaint, may pursue the action individually.

Award the relator

When the government intervenes in a qui tam claim, the relator may receive between 15 to 25 percent of the amount recovered. If the government declines to intervene, the relator may collect between 25 to 30 percent of the amount collected. Where a claim is successful, the relator may collect legal fees.

Whistleblowers usually face retaliation from their employers, friends and community. However, first responders risk their livelihood and lives to do what is right. The False Claims Act is an effective instrument for our new first responders, the whistleblowers, to end tax fraud. For more information about The False Claims Act and Texas’s whistleblower laws, contact your Dallas whistleblower attorney.

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