Our Whistleblower Checklist
This checklist may help you evaluate the strength of your case and whether you want to become a whistleblower:
- Is your case about a fraud or false claims against the government? State and federal false claims laws are not general fraud laws. They exist to redress frauds and schemes where the government is the victim.
- Alternatively, is your case about violations of the IRS Code, violations of the federal securities laws or fraud within the jurisdiction of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“Dodd Frank” claims)?
- When did the fraud occur? Was it more than six years ago? The time limit for filing for False Claims Act cases (the “statute of limitations”) is generally six years.
- Is your information already publicly known? If it is, it will be very difficult for you to pursue a False Claims Act case.
- What evidence do you have? Do you have documents? Is your evidence “hearsay” or is it based on statements or events that you personally saw or heard? If your information is based on what others have told you, what is the source of their knowledge?
- How much money is at stake, and could the defendant pay a judgment or settlement? A good case is a case with both significant damages and a defendant that can pay them. If you have a “judgment-proof” defendant, you do not have a case worth pursuing.
- Is there really a fraud? Does it involve dishonesty? Honest mistakes, waste, technical violations, mismanagement (as distinct from deceit) and “grey areas” are not good bases for False Claims Act lawsuits.
Gathering and Preserving Evidence:
- Do not use illegal means to gather evidence.
- Preserve the evidence you have and do not alter it. Keep it pristine, as close to its original form and condition as possible. Don’t write on documents. If you have electronic documents, records or data or evidence on hard drives or flash drives, consider having a professional make forensically sound exact duplicate imaged copies.
- Write down everything you know while it is still fresh in your mind. Do that so that you can share that information with your lawyer, even if you don’t have a lawyer yet. The more complete the information is, the easier it will be for a lawyer to give you legal advice. Label your notes “Confidential: Attorney-Client Communications: Prepared For The Purpose Of Seeking Legal Advice.” Include a timeline of events; names and contact information for other potential witnesses; a description and the location of corroborating records or evidence; and list all the corroborating evidence you have.
To learn more, check out our Qui Tam Law FAQ.