You’re pretty sure your boss is breaking the law — maybe overbilling Medicare for services, billing for services they never performed or something equally illegal. You’re thinking of blowing the whistle, even though you know that it will likely cost you your job and lead to some rather involved proceedings.
What you might not expect, however, is to end up facing charges yourself. But it could happen.
“Unclean hands” can lead to major problems for whistleblowers
Roughly 5% of whistleblower claims fail because the whistleblowers do something illegal in their desire to get evidence that can be used against their employers. Most are acting on pure intentions, but that won’t necessarily stop a prosecutor from filing charges against them.
Here are some examples of fraud, identity theft and other mistakes that could get you charged with a white-collar offense:
- Assuming your manager’s identity over the phone to get information about a transaction from another party
- Accessing restricted parts of your company’s mainframe through a co-worker’s computer to try to find documentation that supports your case
- Publishing (Wikileaks-style) information that is considered secret or confidential (like many government contracts)
- Swiping someone’s phone to peek at their messages and forwarding them to yourself for evidence
- Making paper or digital copies of anything you don’t have a right to access or possess
Again, you may be on the side of the angels in your heart, but that’s not necessarily how the law will see it.
What if you’ve already made a mistake?
It can be terrifying to feel like you’re all alone after you come forward with allegations of a crime and find yourself charged with a federal crime over what was a genuine mistake. Speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney today.