When an employee in Wisconsin decides to blow the whistle on his or her employer by exposing fraud, he or she can generally do this anonymously. Depending on which government whistleblower program the claim falls under, employees may be able to file the claim completely anonymously, or they may have to tell the government who they are, but not their their employers.
Remaining anonymous, even if only for a limited period of time, tends to protect the whistle-blower from retaliation by his or her employer. It also makes it possible for the whistle-blower to help with any audits or investigations that are a part of the case. In an interesting case, an former U.S. Internal Revenue Service examiner was arrested this week and charged with exposing an IRS whistleblower among other things.
When the man was working as an IRS agent in 2010 and 2011, he audited a bank for the alleged underreporting of $1 billion in taxes. This audit was to be done with the assistance of a confidential whistleblower. However, the agent abruptly resigned from the IRS and it was later revealed that while the man was working on settlement negotiations for this case, he was simultaneously seeking a job at that very bank.
He also reportedly told people outside of the IRS about the whistle-blower’s identity as well as details of other IRS audits.
While the government has many programs in place to financially reward whistle-blowers, the fact that their identities may not always be protected as they are supposed to be may discourage some workers from coming forward.
Those who have knowledge of fraud being committed by their employers are often wise to talk with experienced employment law attorneys about how to come forward, in order to avoid any unintended consequences such as retaliation.
Source: Reuters, “Ex-IRS examiner charged with naming whistleblower,” Sep. 28, 2012