Overview of False Claims Laws
The Federal False Claims Act prohibits six categories of conduct:
- Knowingly submitting a false “claim”—to obtain a payment from the federal government or otherwise gain access to federal funding;
- Knowingly making or using a false record or statement that could or has the tendency to influence payment or receipt of federal funds;
- Conspiring to defraud the government into paying a false claim;
- Knowingly and improperly trying to avoid an obligation to return money or property to the government;
- Knowingly concealing an obligation to return or pay money or property to the government; or
- Knowingly and improperly trying to avoid or decrease an obligation to return or pay money or property to the government.
To put it more plainly, it’s generally a violation to cheat the government by knowingly:
- Billing for goods or services never delivered or rendered.
- Paying bribes or kickbacks to obtain funding or contracts.
- Double billing.
- Billing for unallowable expenses.
- Inflating charges or expenses.
- Bid rigging — or collusion to frustrate competitive bidding.
- Selling defective products or services.
- Failing to comply with contract specifications.
- Falsely certifying compliance with contract requirements or with state or federal law.
- Billing time or materials used for one project to another (“cross charging”).
- Making false statements to obtain, or to keep, a contract or grant.
- Substituting inferior parts or products.
- Misrepresenting eligibility for Minority, Women or Disadvantaged Business Enterprise programs or set asides.
- Receiving rebates from subcontractors and not passing them on to the government.
- Billing for “ghost” payrollers.
- Receiving an overpayment from the government and improperly retaining rather than refunding it.
- Falsifying, forging, or altering statements or records in order to obtain payment or increase payments.
- Withholding royalty payments owed.
- Knowingly using the wrong billing codes to increase reimbursements or payments.
- “Bundling” or “unbundling” charges (billing one service as two, or two services as one) to increase payments or reimbursements.
- Submitting claims for benefits for phantom victims or for fictitious damages or injuries.
The coverage of most state False Claims Acts is similar.
To learn more, check out our Qui Tam Law FAQ.