What’s My Case Worth
When you file a successful whistleblower claim, you are entitled to a percentage of the amount the federal government recovers. To find out what your case is worth, schedule a free and confidential consultation at Fraud Reporting Firm today.
As a whistleblower, you are entitled to a percentage of the amount that the federal government recovers based upon the information you provide. While there are several steps you need to take in order to qualify for this compensation – and while you need to be the first one to provide actionable information to the government – if your whistleblower claim leads to the recovery of fraudulent losses, you may be entitled to a significant financial award.
Just how significant? While the percentages vary by statute, in most cases whistleblowers are entitled to somewhere in the range of 10% to 30% of the federal government’s recovery. With federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) only devoting resources to high-value cases, whistleblower awards can easily climb into the millions of dollars. Since 2000, many whistleblowers have received eight-figure and even nine-figure compensation awards. For example, here are some of the largest whistleblower awards in recent history:
- $250 million award (estimated) issued to four whistleblowers who uncovered fraudulent marketing practices conducted by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.
- $170 million award issued to multiple whistleblowers who uncovered Bank of America’s fraudulent practices in connection with the sale of high-risk mortgages to government-insured financial institutions.
- $167 million award issued to a whistleblower who reported labeling fraud and Anti-Kickback Statute violations committed by Johnson & Johnson in relation to its marketing of various prescription drugs.
- $151 million awarded to multiple whistleblowers who uncovered fraudulent practices, including the illegal payment of kickbacks to physicians, by HCA Inc. in connection with a large-scale federal healthcare fraud investigation.
- $150 million awarded to a whistleblower who reported illegal kickbacks, billing fraud, and other fraudulent practices committed by Tenet Healthcare.
- $114 million awarded to a whistleblower who provided “extraordinary” assistance to the SEC in uncovering large-scale securities fraud practices (the SEC began providing whistleblower compensation in 2012 and has already paid more than $675 million in relator compensation).
- $102 million awarded to a whistleblower who reported fraud committed by Pfizer which resulted in $1.3 billion in criminal fines and a $1 billion False Claims Act settlement.
5 Key Factors for Calculating Whistleblower Compensation in Federal Cases
Of course, not every federal whistleblower claim is worth a hundred million dollars (or more)—and not every piece of information is sufficient to establish the right to whistleblower compensation. In order to determine whether you are entitled to receive compensation from the federal government as a whistleblower (and to determine how much compensation you may be eligible to receive), here are five questions you need to answer:
1. Are You the First to Report the Fraudulent Conduct to the Federal Government?
In order to receive compensation as a whistleblower, you must be the first person to provide the federal government with the information it needs to successfully pursue an investigation. If someone else has already filed a whistleblower complaint based upon the same information, then you generally will not be eligible to receive a whistleblower award. As a result, when you have information about corporate fraud, it is important to promptly engage experienced legal counsel to assist you with preparing your complaint.
2. Is the Federal Government Already Conducting an Investigation Into the Alleged Fraud?
If the government has already launched an investigation and gathered the same information you possess through other means, this too will preclude you from receiving whistleblower compensation. Additionally, if you receive a subpoena in connection with a federal fraud investigation, this will also terminate your eligibility for receiving an award. In order to receive compensation as a whistleblower, you must voluntarily come forward with information that the government does not already have in its possession.
3. Which Federal Statute Governs Your Whistleblower Claim?
Multiple federal statutes contain whistleblower provisions, and different statutes provide for different compensation awards. Under the False Claims Act, whistleblowers (also known as “relators”) typically are eligible to receive between 15 and 30 percent of the government’s recovery. In securities fraud cases, the SEC awards between 10 and 30 percent of amounts recovered in excess of $1 million.
4. Is the Federal Government Going to “Intervene” in Your Federal Fraud Case?
When a whistleblower files a substantiated complaint, the government conducts an investigation; and, based on the evidence obtained during its investigation, the government makes a decision on whether to “intervene” in the case. If the government intervenes, then federal prosecutors will pursue civil or criminal charges; and, if the government recovers fraudulent losses, the whistleblower is entitled to a percentage of the government’s recovery (i.e. up to 25 percent in False Claims Act cases).
If the government chooses not to intervene, this does not mean that the whistleblower’s case is over, but it does mean that the whistleblower (and his or her legal counsel) must make a decision as to whether to pursue the action without government intervention. If the decision is made to move forward and the case results in a financial recovery, then the whistleblower is entitled to a higher percentage (i.e. 30 percent under the False Claims Act).
5. How Much (What Dollar Amount) is at Issue Based on Your Allegations of Fraud?
Since whistleblower awards are calculated as a percentage of the government’s recovery, the amount that your case is worth is dependent upon the amount at issue in the underlying case. In short, the larger the fraud you uncover, the more you are entitled to receive as a whistleblower. Additionally, certain types of whistleblower claims require a minimum recovery amount (i.e. $1 million in securities fraud cases) before compensation is made available.
5 Mistakes to Avoid in Order to Protect Your Right to Whistleblower Compensation
When you have information about fraud that you intend to report to the federal government as a whistleblower, there are some important mistakes you need to avoid. Depending on the circumstances, these mistakes can potentially have significant costs, including: (i) loss of confidentiality, (ii) loss of protection against retaliation, and (iii) loss of eligibility for whistleblower compensation.
1. Waiting to File Your Whistleblower Claim
As discussed above, there are two primary ways that you can lose your eligibility for whistleblower compensation. These are:
- Someone else files a whistleblower claim before you; or,
- The government launches an investigation before you file your complaint.
If you have information about corporate fraud and you are thinking about blowing the whistle, it is important that you act promptly. Not only will this ensure that additional losses resulting from the fraud are no greater than necessary, but it will also ensure that you have the best possible chance to receive a financial award for your efforts.
2. Assuming that You Need More Information to File a Whistleblower Claim
Too often, people wait to seek fraud reporting counsel because they believe that they need (or can find) more information before they file a whistleblower claim. However, once you have enough information, you should stop looking and file your whistleblower claim promptly.
Once again, you need to make sure that you file your claim as soon as possible; and, in certain circumstances gathering additional corporate information without authorization can be legally risky. At Fraud Reporting Firm, our attorneys can advise you whether you have enough information to move forward with filing a whistleblower complaint; and, if you do not, we can guide you through your next steps if you believe that there is additional information to be obtained.
3. Sharing Your Information
When you are thinking about blowing the whistle and reporting fraud, it is imperative that you not share your information with anyone other than your legal counsel. If you know other individuals who you believe may have information as well, your attorney can take the necessary steps to coordinate a joint whistleblower claim if it makes sense to do so. However, at this point, you should keep everything you have confidential.
4. Not Filing a Complaint Out of Fear of Retaliation
If you have information about the company you work for, you may be concerned about retaliation. While this is a valid concern, all federal whistleblower statutes contain strong anti-retaliation provisions that are designed to protect whistleblowers who come forward. If you qualify for whistleblower protection and you still face retaliation, your attorney can help you seek additional compensation for your employer’s statutory violation.
5. Not Hiring a Federal Fraud Reporting Attorney
Some prospective whistleblowers choose not to hire an attorney. More often than not, this proves to be an extraordinarily costly mistake. Securing whistleblower protections (and compensation) is not a straightforward process, and pursuing your claim alongside the federal government requires in-depth knowledge of the laws, rules, and procedures that need to be followed. At Fraud Reporting Firm, we have extensive experience in federal whistleblower cases, and our attorneys can make sure that your information sees the light of day and that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Schedule a Confidential Initial Consultation at Fraud Reporting Firm
If you would like more information about what it takes to file a federal whistleblower claim and how much compensation you may be entitled to receive if you file, we encourage you to schedule an initial consultation at Fraud Reporting Firm. To speak with one of our senior federal whistleblower attorneys in confidence, call 718-571-8324 or get in touch online now.