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Can you still get a reward if the government does not intervene?


Can You Still Get a Reward If the Government Does Not Intervene?

Getting a reward from the government for helping to solve a crime or provide information can be a complicated process. Many people wonder if they can still get a reward if the government decides not to get involved. The short answer is sometimes yes, but often no. Let’s break it down.

First, it helps to understand the types of rewards the government offers. The two main ones are through crime stopper programs and the whistleblower reward program.

Crime stopper programs are run by local, state, and federal law enforcement. They let people anonymously submit tips and collect rewards if the information leads to an arrest or conviction. The rewards come from funds set aside by the government agency or donations. You don’t need the government to intervene or file charges to get one of these rewards. As long as your tip pans out, you can claim the money.

Whistleblower rewards work differently. These are for people who report fraud against the government, like Medicare scams or defense contractor kickbacks. The information you provide has to help the government recover money it lost. The reward is a percentage of those funds, anywhere from 10% to 30%. So for whistleblowers, the government does need to step in and act on your intel. If they don’t prosecute or launch an investigation, you’re out of luck.

When the Government Declines to Prosecute

A big frustration for tipsters is when the government decides not to pursue charges, even if you’ve given them solid evidence of a crime. Maybe it’s for political reasons, or prosecutors are overloaded with cases. Whatever causes them to take a pass, it often means no reward.

But there are certain situations where you still have options:

  • Anonymous tips – If you contacted a crime stopper program anonymously, the government’s decision not to prosecute doesn’t affect your eligibility for a reward. You still provided valuable information that solved a case. As long as the program feels you met their criteria, they should pay out.
  • Whistleblower suits – You can hire a lawyer and file a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the government against the fraudster. If successful, you may be able to claim a portion of the damages. The government can choose to join your suit or decline.
  • State cases – If the feds pass on a case, look into whether state prosecutors might be interested. State whistleblower and reward laws vary, but some may be willing to take it on where federal agencies won’t.

The key is you have to take further action if the specific agency you contacted refuses to intervene. Sitting back and waiting for them to change their minds won’t get you a reward. Be proactive and look for another way.

When Tips Don’t Pan Out

It’s also important to understand reward programs won’t pay just for submitting a tip. You need to provide high-quality information that directly helps crack the case. If your tip turns out to be unhelpful or wrong, you won’t get a reward, regardless of what the government does.

Some reasons tips don’t qualify:

  • The information is already known to investigators
  • It’s too vague, inaccurate or speculative to further the investigation
  • It relates to a minor crime or regulatory violation
  • You don’t respond to follow-up requests for more details
  • The statute of limitations has expired

Every reward program will have eligibility criteria along these lines. So even if you believe you have a valid tip, take time to research the policies in your state or federally. Make sure you understand what the program requires to pay out.

Maximizing Your Chance of Getting a Reward

While no one can guarantee a reward, you can greatly improve your odds by:

  • Providing detailed, credible information on a major crime or large-scale fraud
  • Making yourself available to investigators for follow-up
  • Keeping records of your cooperation and all information provided
  • Following up persistently if your tip isn’t acted upon quickly
  • Consulting a whistleblower attorney if you encounter resistance

It also pays to understand how reward amounts are calculated. The more money recovered based on your tip, the larger your percentage will likely be. So focus on major crimes with significant financial impact when possible.

You can still get a reward without government intervention through some crime stopper programs. But for whistleblowers, non-action by the government agency you contacted usually kills your reward eligibility. In that case, be prepared to pursue other options if you want a payout.

With persistence and high-quality information, a reward may still be possible. But there are never any guarantees, even when you have done everything right. The unfortunate reality is the government holds all the cards. All you can do is try to play the hand you’ve been dealt as best you can.

Key Takeaways

  • Crime stopper rewards don’t require government prosecution, but whistleblower rewards do.
  • If the agency you contacted won’t pursue a case, try other state or federal agencies.
  • File a whistleblower lawsuit if the government declines your case.
  • Make sure your tip meets all the reward program’s criteria.
  • Follow up persistently and be available to investigators.
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