What is the False Claims Act?
Straightforward answers from whistleblower attorneys with years of experience
During the American Civil War, widespread military contractor fraud occurred on both sides. In some cases, private contractors sold the military injured horses, rancid food and defective guns. As a result, precious government resources were wasted on useless products meant for Union and Confederate soldiers.
In response, politicians created the False Claims Act, which is also known as the “Lincoln Law.” This 1863 federal law rewards people who report government fraud and other criminal activity. The False Claims Act was revised in 1986 and several other times since then, but the guiding principle remains the same. This law exists to protect people who speak out against illegal activity at the expense of our government.
Our attorneys at Brewer & Pritchard, P.C. in Houston have an in-depth understanding of the False Claims Act. That’s because our lawyers have decades of experience representing whistleblowers that have taken legal action to report fraud or corruption cases covered by the False Claims Act. You can count on our legal team when it matters most.
What are common False Claims Act cases?
Whistleblower claims involving the False Claims Act can cover a wide range. Some of the most common – and most complicated – cases involve:
- Fraudulently billing the government for goods or services
- Bribery or kickbacks in exchange for government contracts
- Contractors selling or providing the government with defective products
- Double billing the government for goods or services
- Contractors submitting false payroll records (claiming more hours than actually worked, falsely claiming additional employees worked on project, etc.) to the government
- Contractors making false statements on customs forms
- Underpayment or nonpayment of taxes by private contractors hired by the government
These are just a few examples of lawsuits or claims filed by whistleblowers involving violations of the False Claims Act. Many other examples of fraud and corruption are common. Whatever the nature of your potential case, learn more about your legal options as a whistleblower. Talk to an attorney familiar with this distinct area of the law.
Who investigates False Claims Act violations?
The government agency directly affected by a specific fraud or corruption allegation will often conduct an initial investigation involving a whistleblower claim. The Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney General’s office then often conduct an independent investigation to determine the validity of such claims and whether to pursue legal action against the parties accused of committing fraud, corruption or other criminal violations. In certain circumstances, state Attorney Generals’ offices may also be involved in the investigation.
Regardless of which government agency investigates certain False Claims Act cases, it’s important for whistleblowers to have an attorney on their side looking out for their best interests. Otherwise, a whistleblower’s specific concerns or allegations might not receive the attention they rightfully deserve.
How much is my False Claims Act case worth?
There’s no set dollar amount when it comes to how much money False Claims Act cases reported by whistleblowers are worth. However, many whistleblowers receive a financial reward in exchange for successfully reporting financial crimes involving government contracts. This is due to the qui tam provisions in the False Claims Act.
The amount of money awarded to whistleblowers as a reward largely depends on the amount of money recovered by the federal government. There’s also no limit or cap on how much whistleblowers can receive. As a result, the financial compensation awarded to individual whistleblowers can be thousands or even potentially millions of dollars depending on the amount recovered.
However, it’s important to understand that only one whistleblower per case is eligible to receive financial compensation. That whistleblower must be the first one to file a lawsuit or claim involving a specific case of government fraud or corruption. All subsequent claims will be rejected under the False Claims Act’s first-to-file rule.
Don’t underestimate the complexity of your legal case
The False Claims Act includes provisions for financially compensating whistleblowers for exposing fraud or corruption. Such rules and regulations are also often known as “qui tam” law, which dates back to 1318 in England. Politicians believe whistleblowers would be more willing to come forward if they received a portion of the money fraudulently billed to the government.
Such cases involving wrongdoing might seem straightforward. Simply report government fraud and your role is finished. But fraud cases involving the False Claims Act are not always so simple. Often, the people committing the fraud might deny any wrongdoing. In addition, making sure you’re financially compensated for exposing such corruption can sometimes be problematic if you don’t have the right attorney at your side.
Put your trust in a law firm that puts your needs first. Contact us
People who take a stand and expose fraud serve a vital role in our society. When you expose fraud and other criminal activity, you’re sending a strong and clear message that illegal behavior will not be tolerated. The work we do with you could prevent similar illegal activity in the future throughout the country.
Take a stand against government corruption. Contact our law firm. Call (713) 903-2731 or fill out our online inquiry form and schedule a confidential appointment. We respect your privacy and assure you we will do everything we can to protect your rights.
Brewer & Pritchard, P.C. – a name you can trust to make things right.