The False Claims Act and Qui Tam Background
Would you think a Civil War era law has little relevance today? Think again.
The False Claims Act, initially known as the “Lincoln Law,” dates back to the Civil War. But its provisions still apply today, and lawsuits brought under the False Claims Act by whistleblowers have resulted in over $15 billion recovered on behalf of the federal government.
The False Claims Act came into being in response to fraudulent war suppliers who sold defective or nonexistent goods to the Union Army. Initially, it offered a 50 percent reward to “relators,” private citizens who filed lawsuits on the government’s behalf and acted as whistleblowers against the fraud. Since then the law has evolved and changed, and the “qui tam” litigation process has become clearer.
To Whom Does the False Claims Act Apply?
The False Claims Act applies to any person who:
- knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval;
- knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim;
- conspires to commit certain violations;
- has possession, custody, or control of property or money used, or to be used, by the Government and knowingly delivers, or causes to be delivered, less than all of that money or property;
- is authorized to make or deliver a document certifying receipt of property used, or to be used, by the Government and, intending to defraud the Government, makes or delivers the receipt without completely knowing that the information on the receipt is true;
- knowingly buys, or receives as a pledge of an obligation or debt, public property from an officer or employee of the Government, or a member of the Armed Forces, who lawfully may not sell or pledge property; or
- knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government, or knowingly conceals or knowingly and improperly avoids or decreases an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government, is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not less than $5,000 and not more than $10,000, as adjusted by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 (28 U.S.C. 2461 note; Public Law 104-410), plus 3 times the amount of damages which the Government sustains because of the act of that person.
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As an experienced Washington False Claims Act lawyer, I take your rights in False Claims Act and qui tam matters seriously. Think you have a case? Contact me today for a free, confidential phone screening.