What is whistleblowing?

Whistleblowers are people who expose unethical or illegal wrongdoing within companies by reporting it internally to superiors or externally to the media, government authorities, or specialized attorneys. They can be either current or past employees (insiders), or outside individuals who are familiar with the unlawful conduct, and are not required to be U.S. citizens.

Federal whistleblower programs

Whistleblower (WB) laws allow individuals to file a claim and collect a share of the amount the government recovers because of the information they provided. Those courageous enough to come forward and report fraud play a central role in fighting corruption both in the United States and abroad.

In order to encourage potential qui tam relators to come forward, a number of federal programs have been created and strengthened during the past 30 years. These government plans allow private individuals to report instances where a company or individual defrauds or steals money from a public entity, fails to pay taxes, or violates federal securities and foreign corrupt practices law. These programs also provide financial rewards to plaintiffs who bring successful cases to court.
Depending on the information you possess and the type of malfeasance involved, your potential case may be filed under one or more of the following programs:

  • The False Claims Act (FCA)
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS) WB Program
  • Securities and Exchange (SEC) WB Law
  • Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) WB Reward
  • Commodity Futures Trading Commission WB Incentives and Protection

In recent years, corporations have used increasingly sophisticated techniques to circumvent laws and regulations and hide their misbehavior.  In response, U.S. authorities have enacted additional laws and practices to better protect those who come forward and created new ways them to report waste and abuse.

Types of Whistleblower Fraud

Fraud against the government occurs in every industry that receives public funds. Historically, the largest FCA settlements have been in sectors that receive billions in funding each year, such as healthcare and defense. Private companies in these industries get large amounts of money as part of Medicare and Medicaid, or defense contracts. More recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has devoted significant resources to its own program, and is likely to pursue large settlements against financial institutions for violating SEC regulations in the near future.
Some of the most common categories of fraud include:

  • Healthcare Fraud (Medicare and Medicaid)
  • Pharmaceutical Fraud
  • IRS Tax Fraud
  • Government Contractor and Defense Contractor Fraud
  • Foreign Bribery and Corruption (FCPA)
  • Securities Fraud
  • Education Fraud
  • Procurement Fraud
Learn About the Different Types of Government Fraud