The False Claims Act


The False Claims Act, was enacted in 1863 by Congress who was concerned that suppliers of goods to the Union Army during the Civil War were defrauding the Army. The FCA provided that any person who knowingly submitted false claims to the government was liable for double the government’s damages plus a penalty of $2,000 for each false claim. Since then, the FCA has been amended several times. In 1986, there were significant changes to the FCA, including increasing damages from double damages to triple damages and raising the penalties. 

What Actions Are Considered Violations under the False Claims Act? 

  • Knowingly presenting (or causing to be presented) to the federal government a false or fraudulent claim for payment;

  • Knowingly using (or causing to be used) a false record or statement to get a claim paid by the federal government;

  • Conspiring with others to get a false or fraudulent claim paid by the federal government;

  • Knowingly using (or causing to be used) a false record or statement to conceal, avoid, or decrease an obligation to pay money or transmit property to the federal government.

The FCA is the federal Government's primary litigation tool in combating fraud against the Government. The law allows people who are not affiliated with the government, called "relators" under the law, to file actions on behalf of the government (informally called "whistleblower" especially when the relator is employed by the organization accused in the suit). Persons filing under the Act stand to receive a portion (15% to 30%) of any recovered damages. As of 2012, over 70 percent of all federal Government FCA actions were initiated by whistleblowers. Claims under the law have typically involved healthcare, military, or other government spending programs, and dominate the list of largest pharmaceutical settlements. The government recovered $38.9 billion under the False Claims Act between 1987 and 2013 and of this amount, $27.2 billion or 70% was from whistleblowers.

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