The Law Firm of Piacentile, Stefanowski & Malherbe LLP

A Brief Introduction to the False Claims Act

The False Claims Act is the United States' oldest whistleblower law. It was enacted in 1863 to combat rampant fraud by defense contractors during the civil war. The law incentivizes individuals with knowledge of fraudulent activities to blow the whistle, with awards of 15% - 30% of whatever the government recovers from these fraudsters. This law has been so successful that many others are based on it. According to the Department of Justice, 2021 there have been over $5.6 billion in settlements from civil cases involving fraud and false claims to the government.

How does this law work? Usually, civilians or people with insider information come forward and provide evidence of wrongdoing to the government. The government then investigates the claims and, if they find evidence of fraud, they file a lawsuit against the wrongdoers. The whistleblower usually receives a portion of whatever the government recovers as a result of the lawsuit. Thanks to this law, many fraudsters have been brought to justice and billions of dollars have been recovered for taxpayers. If you suspect that someone is committing fraud against the government, don't hesitate to report it - you could be eligible for a substantial award.

In order to bring a False Claim Act legal action, there must be a false claim for payment that was submitted to the government, or submitting such a false payment was contemplated and acted on in some significant way (in other words, the defendant conspired to violate the FCA).

The person submitting the claim must know that it is false or have made the claim with reckless disregard or deliberate ignorance for the truth or falsity of the information.

The qui tam provision of the False Claims Act allows private citizens (so-called "relators") to file lawsuits on behalf of the federal government alleging that a party has defrauded the government. If the realtor is successful in prosecuting the lawsuit, they may be entitled to a share of any damages or penalties awarded by the court.

The qui tam provision has proved to be one of the most effective tools in combating fraud against the government, and it has resulted in billions of dollars being recovered by the federal government over the years.

There are a variety of ways in which someone can commit fraud against the government, and False Claims Act actions have been brought in many different contexts. Some of the most common areas of FCA litigation include:

  • Healthcare fraud

  • Defense contractor fraud

  • Environmental law violations

  • Fraudulent student loan claims

  • Mortgage fraud

  • Kickbacks

There are many other potential areas of fraud as well, and the list above is definitely not exhaustive.

When fraudsters commit fraud against the government, it affects all of us because we are the ones footing the bill through our taxes.

The False Claims Act is one way that we as Americans can fight back against these fraudsters.

The False Claims Act forbids any person from interfering with another person's efforts to bring a false claims action. see 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h). This includes threats, intimidation, and other forms of harassment. It is also unlawful to fire or otherwise retaliate against someone for attempting to stop fraud against the government.

You can contact a qui tam attorney to discuss your case confidentially and learn more about your rights under the False Claims Act. Many attorneys will take cases on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if you recover money from the defendants.

If you believe that someone has committed fraud against the government, you should contact a whistleblower attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the complicated legal process and maximize your chances of receiving an award. Whistleblower awards can be very lucrative, so don't miss out on your chance to collect one. Contact us at Whistleblowers International today to get started.