Of course, since you are asking a lawyer when you need a lawyer, I am going to tell you “as soon as possible”! But really, there are many reasons why you will want to find a knowledgeable, experienced FCA attorney very early in the process if you think you are witnessing fraud against the government.
First, it’s a good idea to have a free consultation with us and make sure that you are correct in what you suspect. Sometimes, there are things companies do wrong that, although against the rules, don’t really belong in an FCA case. We can help you sort out what is an FCA issue, what should be taken to a different sort of attorney, or maybe reported to a hotline.
Second, assuming that you have an FCA issue, we will want to advise you about what evidence you may want to gather to prove your case. Making such decisions on your own is fraught with peril, and could even land you with criminal or civil liability if you make the wrong move. For example, there may be documents you want to bring, but there are important guidelines about what you can and cannot bring to show us. This is a complicated issue, and we very much encourage you to speak with us before you make any decisions about what to take. Similarly, some would-be relators contemplate making a recording of the workplace. Again, this is not a simple issue and we would prefer to have the opportunity to discuss it with you before you make any actual recordings.
Third, by the time they are contemplating an FCA action, many relators are on the verge of being let go. If they are terminated, there are important steps you will want to take to preserve your rights. You may also be asked to sign a release in order to receive a severance package – the issue of releases is very complex, varies from district to district, and can result in our being unable to help you. Do not sign away any of your rights without consulting an experienced qui tam attorney!
For all of these reasons and more, if you think you are a witness to fraud against the government at any level, we encourage you to take advantage of our free consultations.