If you are an avid movie watcher – as many of us have become over the last two years – it may seem like whistleblowers are very common. After all, they are heroes of popular films such as The Insider, Erin Brockovich, The Informant, and many others. While they are a popular and constant presence in the media, whistleblowers are not so common in real life.
In the most recent fiscal year, there were only 672 False Claims Act lawsuits filed by whistleblowers (also known as “qui tam” actions”). In a country with over 255 million adults, this means only 1 qui tam lawsuit is filed for every 380,000 adults. This low number is nowhere near what the movies may lead one to believe.
Let’s put that number – 672 – in context. On one hand, fewer people were injured in lightning strikes last year than became FCA whistleblowers. On the other hand, there were more skunk attacks than whistleblower lawsuits filed. Nearly twice as many people are drafted by a major league baseball each year than become whistleblowers. And more than four times as many people were accepted to Harvard as filed a whistleblower lawsuit, although not for lack of trying.
Here’s one more: Guess how many people last year voted for Kanye West for President of the United States. If you guessed 67,906, you are correct. More than 100 times more people voted for Kanye than filed False Claims Act cases.
Although whistleblowers are rare, they make an impact. This is not an opinion. As we have documented throughout the last 30 days, fraud whistleblowing works, and it remains the most effective tool in preventing fraud on the government.
Tomorrow we start a new federal fiscal year knowing the amount and potential for fraud in the country is not media hype or a film creation. So we close out our month of Fraud by the Numbers with one simple question. Do we have too many whistleblowers or not nearly enough?
Written by Raymond Sarola of Cohen Milstein