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False Claims Act

False Claims Act

What is False Claims Act?

The False Claims Act, a civil law codified at 18 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733, is known as “Lincoln’s Law” because it was enacted during the Civil War to fight widespread fraud committed by contractors supplying the military. By allowing whistleblowers to sue persons or entities that are defrauding the government and recovery damages and penalties on the government’s behalf, the False Claims Act is the U.S. Government’s primary weapon for combating fraud.

The unique feature of the False Claims Act is its qui tam (or whistleblower) provision, by which an individual or entity (known as a “relator”) with knowledge of fraud against the Government may file a lawsuit on behalf of the United States. If the case is successful, the relator can share in the Government’s monetary recovery and recover attorney’s fees and costs from the defendant, thus incentivizing potential whistleblowers and private attorneys to come forward and prosecute fraud on the government’s behalf. The Federal Claims Act created a tremendously successful public-private partnership resulting in billions of dollars in government recoveries and whistleblower rewards.

The Federal Claims Act is written broadly and identifies seven violations:

  1. False Claims – Presenting, or causing the presentment, of a false claim for payment or approval. 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729(a)(1)(A).
  2. False Records or Statements – Making, using, or causing others to make or use, a false record or statement that is material to a false or fraudulent claim. 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729(a)(1)(B).
  3. Conspiracy – Conspiring to violate the False Claims Act. 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729(a)(1)(C).
  4. Conversion –  Failing to return government property. 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729(a)(1)(D).
  5. False Receipts – Making or delivering a receipt of government property without completely knowing that the information in it is true. 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729(a)(1)(E).
  6. Unlawful purchase of Government Property – Buying public property from a government employee who may not lawfully sell it. 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729(a)(1)(F).
  7. Reverse False Claims – Making, using, or causing to be made or used, a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay money to the government; or conceals, avoids, or decreases an obligation to pay money to the government. 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729(a)(1)(G).

Federal Claims Act Penalties

Set forth in 31 U.S.C. 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729(a)(1)(G), civil penalties for False Claims Act violations can be devastating. They may include not just huge financial penalties, but also a bar to participating in federal programs.

Criminal Charges Under the Federal Claims Act

18 U.S.C. § 287 – False, Fictitious, or Fraudulent Claims – makes it a crime for anyone to attempt to obtain money, goods, or services from the government by presenting a false, fictitious, or fraudulent claim. This section is most often charged in health care fraud and Stark Law (physician self-referral) cases.
This section caries a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and $250,000 in fines.

Irvine, California Counterfeiting Attorney

The first and most important decision a defendant or anyone facing a False Claims act investigation must make is to retain the right defense attorney. Responding to a False Claims Act investigation or charges requires a proactive, coordinated, and proactive approach. White collar federal defense attorney Peter Hardin has a long and outstanding track record of establishing clear communication with federal law enforcement agents and prosecutors and responding swiftly and accurately to search warrants and subpoenas. Because Peter Hardin has prosecuted and defended against criminal cases for nearly 20 years, he understands not just the law, but the way federal authorities investigate cases and the prosecutorial tactics that follow. It is essential that anyone who may be under investigation for violating the False Claims Act, or who has been charged pursuant to the False Claims Act, act quickly to build a strong defense and protect their rights. Contact Peter Hardin now for a free and confidential consultation.

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