Under the False Claims Act, a law passed in 1863 and amended several times since, it is illegal for individuals or companies to defraud the government.
What does it mean to defraud the government?
An individual or company has violated the False Claims Act after submitting a false claim to the government, causing a false claim to be submitted, or making a false record or statement in order to get a false claim paid by the government.
False claims count as violations of the act if they are submitted either to the government or to another company or individual if the money is used on the government’s behalf.
However, an individual or company doesn’t violate the act simply by submitting a false claim: the individual or company must have knowingly submitted the false claim. Here, “knowingly” means that the individual or company had direct knowledge that the claim was false, was deliberately ignorant of the falseness of the claim, or recklessly disregarded the truth. This “knowing” requirement protects the prosecution of people who made honest mistakes.
There are many types of violations of the False Claims Act. Fraud may occur in the health care, pharmaceutical, defense, energy, construction, financial, and research industries.
Some examples of False Claim Act violations include the following:
Health care fraud:
- Services never rendered: An individual or company submits a claim for health care services; such as treatment, diagnosis, or medical devices; that were never given.
- Patients that don’t exist: An individual or company submits a claim for health care services provided to a patient that doesn’t exist or didn’t receive the services.
- Billing for medically unnecessary services: A health care provider submits a claim for services that were not medically necessary.
- Off-label marketing: A pharmaceutical company markets its drugs for a use unapproved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Kickbacks: A pharmaceutical company gives payments to a physician or hospital in exchange for prescribing their drugs.
- Cross-charging: A defense contractor moves costs from one contract to another to increase its profits.
- Product substitution: A defense contractor uses cheaper or substandard parts to fulfill a contract without the permission of the government.
- Worthless products: A defense contractor knowingly provides the government with parts that don’t perform as promised.
- Royalty fraud: An energy company fails to pay the government the required royalties for mining on government-owned land.
- Research grant fraud: An individual or company submits a false grant application in order to receive grant money or submits false research data.
- Bid-rigging: Multiple companies conspire to ensure that a certain company wins a government contract.
- Overcharging materials: A construction company overcharges for the materials used in the project.
- Substandard materials: A construction company uses cheaper or substandard materials without the permission of the government.
- Mortgage fraud: A lender or mortgage company submits a false claim to the Federal Housing Administration to make sure that a mortgage is eligible for backing by the government.
If you suspect or have evidence that a false claim has been submitted to the government—whether one of the examples above or another type of false claim—call the Huntsville False Claim Act lawyers at Martinson & Beason, P.C. today.
An individual who brings a False Claims Act lawsuit on behalf of the government is often entitled to a percentage of the damages recovered. We’re here to help you pursue justice and assert your rights as a whistleblower.