The United States government does not take fraud lightly, and there are many things in place to help catch perpetrators. One of them is qui tam.
Qui tam refers to the ability of a private citizen to file an action that alleges that an entity has submitted a false claim to the government. If the government pursues a lawsuit and is successful, the citizen may receive a percentage of the recovery.
Examples of false claim reporting
According to FindLaw, an individual may allege a false claim relating to a variety of things in areas such as healthcare, grant procurement, Medicare, the military and contracting. Examples may include:
- Charging for a medical service that was never performed
- Making false reports about product quality
- Overcharging the government
- Failing to conduct proper tests of products
How to bring a qui tam action
If a private individual suspects or knows about fraudulent actions, he or she can initiate a qui tam case. The Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers says that to initiate the process, the individual, called a relator, files a complaint in the U.S. District Court. The details of the complaint are confidential for a minimum of 60 days while the government investigates the allegations.
After the initial investigation, if the government decides to intervene, it takes primary responsibility of the lawsuit. If it decides not to intervene, the private citizen may still pursue the lawsuit.
Regardless of government intervention, the private citizen receives compensation for bringing the qui tam action forward if the defendant is liable for the false claims. With government involvement, the individual generally receives between 15 and 25% of the recovered proceeds. Without government intervention, the individual can receive between 25 and 30% of the proceeds.
If the person filing the qui tam action took part in any of the wrongdoing, the court may reduce the award amount. If there is a conviction of criminal action, the court may deny the award completely.