The largest payout ever given to an informant, the $104 million awarded to Birkenfeld were part of the IRS’s whistleblower program, which rewards informants up to 30 percent of collected funds and fines from pursued claims. Around the time of the award, the IRS was seeking to shrink potential whistleblowers’ payout, which drew fierce criticism from a number of lawmakers. The IRS program, which was revamped in 2006 to offer higher rewards and incentives, was created to encourage informants to come forward with allegations of potential wrongdoings in an effort to help the agency recover an estimated $100 billion a year of underpaid taxes.
Sandy has been mudlarking for a hobby for the last five years, scouring the river banks for historical artifacts. Some of his finds are so rare they are displayed in museums. "Over 2,000 years of time, everything has been thrown into the Thames, accidentally lost ... dropped so 2,000 years of history are down there," he said. "It's really the thrill of almost like time-traveling and knowing that the last person to touch this was from that time period," he added, describing the feeling of making a find.