People who've found a way to legally shake down companies for settlements could see their false claim scheme come to a halt, if Illinois' retail community has its way. Two business owners and the head of the state Department of Revenue were before an Illinois Senate committee to tell their stories. Jeff Pape, who runs Wrestlinggear.com in Elmhurst, says it's easier to settle than fight and is out $25,000. “If you're not even close to the threshold, just settle, and settle as fast as you can,” Pape told senators of the advice he received from lawyers. “One firm stated that these cases were not winnable, which, to me, meant that even if I did win the case, I would spend so much money on legal fees that I truly would not feel that I won.”
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“How does Illinois want to treat companies like mine, that have been in Illinois for 56 years, and collected and remitted sales tax for many, many years – tens of millions of dollars?” Bob Jones of Tinley Park-based American Sale. The idea is for the plaintiff to try to get an honest business in trouble with the Illinois Department of Revenue. “789 false claim action lawsuits have been filed against Illinois businesses since this began,” said revenue director Connie Beard. “Unfortunately, this number continues to grow.” Existing law gives whistleblowers a percentage of recovery. The retailers want lawmakers to tighten that loophole.