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What Is a Qui Tam Action?

How does it protect you and allow you to pursue justice on behalf of the public?

Blow the whistle on fraud

Qui tam is short for the Latin phrase “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur,” which translates to “he who brings an action for the king as well as for himself.” The phrase refers to a lawsuit brought by an individual on behalf of the government. Qui tam is also commonly referred to as a whistleblower lawsuit or an action under the False Claims Act. These three terms are one and the same for our purposes.

When an individual becomes aware of fraud against the government by contractors, recipients of federal aid, or others, they may choose to courageously blow the whistle. Blowing the whistle commonly takes the form of a qui tam lawsuit. Whistleblowers who expose fraud through a qui tam lawsuit may be eligible for a significant reward.

What is a qui tam relator?

A relator (often misspelled as “realtor”) is the person who relays information about fraud. A relator, a whistleblower, and the individual who files a qui tam lawsuit are interchangeable terms for our purposes. The relator is the voice of the taxpaying public, expressing outrage and seeking justice against fraudsters.

What is a qui tam complaint?

A qui tam complaint or lawsuit is a method under a federal law called the False Claims Act (FCA) for bringing the government’s attention to fraud against them. The FCA, also known as Lincoln’s Law, was originally passed in 1863 as a response to contractor fraud against the military.

“History has shown us over and over again how much our country needs whistleblowers. Going after waste, fraud, and abuse without whistleblowers is about as useful as harvesting acres of corn with a pair of rusty old scissors.”
–Senator Chuck Grassley

Learn More: The history of the False Claims Act

People who are aware of fraud against the government are incentivized to come forward with a qui tam complaint. Depending on the usefulness of the whistleblower’s information and their level of involvement in the government’s investigation, a whistleblower may be entitled to up to 30% of the government’s recovery. As the government can recover up to three times the amount of fraud in damages, the whistleblower’s share of a recovery can be life-changing.

How does a qui tam lawsuit work?

Working with an attorney, a whistleblower can confidentially notify the right government agency of fraud against them. The whistleblower has to follow a specific process in order to submit their information and retain their eligibility for any award. The government reviews the information and decides on a course of action.

Next comes the most important step in the qui tam process, trying to hold the fraudster accountable. If this is successful, the rewards can be great for everyone but the fraudster.

Where does fraud against the government happen?

Fraud against the government occurs – and often goes unpunished – in nearly every industry, from housing and mortgage lending to education loans and health care. Fraud happens when companies cheat the government – including overcharging, lying on contracts, and many other forms.

The government relies on whistleblowers to alert them to fraud. No matter the industry or the size of the company, lying to the government to get money can give rise to a qui tam lawsuit.

“Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled.” –Barack Obama

Who can file a qui tam complaint?

Employees, ex-employees, independent contractors, competitors, and nearly any person with knowledge of fraud against the government can file a qui tam complaint. Notably, the first person to report the fraud is in the best position to receive a possible reward.

The government may ask you to provide evidence for your claim. We can help you determine what the best evidence would be, and how to gather it.

Who: Filed by a private citizen.
What: A lawsuit on behalf of the government.
Why: To try to hold fraudsters accountable.
When: The first filer is in the best position for a possible reward.
How: An experienced whistleblower attorney can guide you.

Ready to blow the whistle? Our qui tam lawyers put you first

A qui tam lawsuit is much different than a regular one. An experienced whistleblower attorney who handles whistleblower cases every day can use their skill and knowledge to guide you through the process while keeping your identity confidential for as long as possible. There can be a lot of money at stake in whistleblower suits and competing agendas among the parties. At Carolina Whistleblower Attorneys, we put you first.

We’re led by former United States Attorney Bill Nettles. During his tenure as US Attorney, Bill’s office brought the state of South Carolina from a near bottom ranking for whistleblower recoveries to one of the top four in the country.1 Now, he helps individual whistleblowers. Bill knows what a good case looks like and how to pursue a claim. He leads a team with decades of combined experience helping good people fight the good fight.

When a business or entity steals from the government, they steal from all of us. If you have information on fraud against the government, let’s fight to try to put a stop to it. For a no-cost, confidential evaluation of your claim by an attorney, call 1-888-292-8852 today or contact us online.

Awards we’ve won

For standards of inclusion for awards listed, visit,,,, and National Trial Lawyers Top 100 designation is for 2022. Regarding the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, we do not represent that similar results will be achieved in your case. Each case is different and must be evaluated separately. Firm award is for the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin. Attorney awards are for attorneys with the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin.

Contact the Carolina
Whistleblower Attorneys

If you’re wondering if it’s a good idea to speak with a whistleblower lawyer about what you know, let us set the record straight.

  • Corporate ethics hotlines can be risky and may lead to termination. If you’ve already done this, call us immediately.
  • Your coworkers could be aware of the fraud – or complicit in it – and you should not talk to them about it.
  • The first claim to be filed under the False Claims Act can proceed – if you’re not first, you’re at a serious disadvantage and may get nothing (another reason not to speak to your coworkers about it).
  • A confidential discussion costs you a few minutes, but could save you time, stress, and money.


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