A whistle blower is someone who discloses or reports evidence of wrongdoing or malfeasance often by a corporation or company. Quite often this wrongdoing involved fraud, taxes, or both and is usually reported to the government. There is a long history of whistle blowers dating back hundreds of years. However in the United States, over the last half a century, whistle blowers and whistle blower cases have become increasingly prominent in the headlines. While whistle blower cases are usually reported to the government, there also have been whistle blower cases involving various governmental departments as well.
There are basically two classifications of whistle blowers, external and internal. While anyone can report illegal or improper actions by a corporation to a company, quite often the whistleblowers are employees of the company they’re reporting or internal whistleblowers. As such they often need legal protection against reprisals from their employer. If it is a fraud perpetrated against the government, the government rewards them for their efforts and protects them. Many of these cases involve healthcare fraud and tax evasion. Whistle blower suits are known as qui tam lawsuits, a term that dates back to the early 1300s in England and their earliest document use was in the Middle Ages. Qui Tam allows means that individuals who assist the government by reporting illegal activities are rewarded the penalties paid by a corporation or company if the case is successfully prosecuted. While Qui Tam was enforced in the 13 original colonies and embraced by the first US congress, it was first passed into law in 1863 as the Fair Claims Act. However in 1943, Congress curtailed the Fair Claims Act and reduced the reward amount, as well as increasing the government’s power to take over a case initially litigated by a citizen. However in 1986, with concerns over the national debt and numerous instances of fraud involving defense contractors, Congress revived Qui Tam and not only increased the penalties, but the share of the reward allocated to citizens. Most states now have laws protecting whistleblowers. Whistleblower protections have been worked into several other laws as well.
Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania have whistle blower laws that in essence state that an employer cannot threaten, discharge or retaliate against an employee who in good faith reports an employer of malfeasance to a state or federal agency.
There are many famous cases of Whistle blowers and one of the most famous and certainly most notorious was FBI Agent Mark Felt who disclosed key evidence in the Watergate scandal to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, bringing down the presidency of Richard Nixon.
In terms of insurance fraud, quite often whistle blower cases involve defrauding Medicare and Medicaid. One such case involved a well known pharmacy chain who was double dipping or double billing for prescriptions. There are numerous other cases of insurance fraud not only in the area of health.
There are many areas of tax fraud including false deductions, not reporting revenue, delaying earnings or losses to a different year, hiding profits and manufacturing losses and failing to file or pay taxes among many others.
If you have evidence of wrongdoing by a corporation or company, it is crucial to contact an attorney as quickly as possible. The “first to file” rule is among many reasons. This means the first person to file a claim against a company is the person entitled to the reward.
Austin Freundlich and Gregory Littman are experienced whistle blower defense attorneys who will work to protect your rights against any reprisals as well as litigate your claim. Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation.