What is the False Claims Act?
The False Claims Act was enacted to prevent fraud on the government and return ill-gotten taxpayer dollars. In general, liability exists under the False Claims Act for any person who knowingly submits a false claim to the government, causes another to submit a false claim to the government, or knowingly makes a false record or statement to get a false claim paid by the government.
The FCA initially provided that any person who knowingly submitted false claims was liable for double the government's damages, plus a penalty of $2,000 for each false claim. The FCA has since been amended several times. It has broadened and strengthened along the way. The FCA now provides for treble damages, and penalties steadily increase.
In fiscal year 2019, the United States Department of Justice reported recoveries of more than $3 billion in settlements and judgments from claims arising under the False Claims Act. Fraud comes in all shapes and sizes in actual practice, but here are some examples of types FCA cases that represent some of the more common fraud schemes:
- Medically unnecessary services
- Overbilling and upcoding
- Government contracting
- Kickback schemes
- Small business contracts and loans