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False Statements and False Claims

NCJ Number
American Criminal Law Review Volume: 43 Issue: 2 Dated: Spring 2006 Pages: 461-493
Jordan L. Coyle; Tarnetta V. Jones
Date Published
33 pages
This article explains criminal elements of the Federal offenses of making false statements and false claims to a Federal agency, as well as civil prosecutions against a defendant who submits a fraudulent claim to the government.
Section 1001 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code is a broad and frequently used statute that criminalizes making false statements to an agency of the U.S. Government. Title 18 also contains several more specific false statement statutes that focus on specific contexts in which false statements are made, such as to influence loan and credit applications. Prosecutors prefer using Section 1001, because they can enforce it either alone or in association with more specific statutes. This article explains the elements of a Section 1001 offense, relevant defenses, and sentencing. Congress enacted the first False Claims Act in 1863 to combat rampant fraud and corruption in the sale of supplies and provisions to the Union Army during the Civil War, and over the years it has been used periodically to protect Federal funds and property from fraudulent claims. Since 1986, when a series of amendments were made to target fraud in the defense industry, the False Claims Act has been used in virtually every area in which Federal money is spent. Under Section 287 it is illegal to present a false, fictitious, or fraudulent claim to the Federal Government. The article also explains the elements of a Section 287 offense, relevant defenses, and enforcement. The article concludes with a discussion of civil prosecutions under the False Claims Act. 247 footnotes