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Whistleblowing Details: The False Claims Act in Practice

NCJ Number
White Paper Volume: 14 Issue: 5 Dated: September/October 2000 Pages: 26-48
Tod A. Lewis
Date Published
6 pages
This article analyzes the liability portion of the civil Federal False Claims Act (FCA), identifies the five most common types of prosecuted cases, examines the progress and success of the "qui tam" "whistleblower" provisions since the act's 1986 amendments, and identifies the various States that have adopted similar statutes.
The FCA prohibits seven different types of conduct, all of which involve submission of false claims to the Federal Government; for example seeking reimbursement for goods or services never provided or falsely describing the good or services that were provided is prohibited under section 3729(a)(1). Also, a person may not knowingly make or use a false claim. Conspiracy to defraud the Federal Government through false claims is a separate violation. It is also a violation to knowingly deliver less property than the amount listed on a certificate or receipt. Further, a person intending to defraud the Federal Government, may not issue a receipt for less than what the Government actually receives; another violation occurs when a person knowingly buys Government property from a Government employee who is not authorized to sell it. The "reverse" false claim provision prohibits the knowing use of a false record to decrease an obligation to the Government. The five most common types of cases prosecuted under the FCA are mischarge, fraud in the inducement or false negotiation, false certification of entitlement, substandard product or service, and reverse false claim. Since the act was amended in 1986, more than $3.5 billion has been recovered in whistleblower-related cases. In return for filing the cases, in accordance with the statute, the Department of Justice has paid whistleblowers more than $550 million, with additional awards pending. More than 3,000 whistleblower suits have been filed since 1986. 34 notes