False Claims Act Explained
The False Claims Act holds accountable any individual or entity that knowingly presents a fraudulent claim for payment to the federal government. The broad scope of the False Claims Act applies across all industries to include anyone who contracts with the United States government or participates in a federal program. For example, a government contractor who bills the government for services that the contractor never actually performed would be in violation of the False Claims Act.
The False Claims Act only applies to the “knowing” submission of false or inaccurate bills to the government; one will not be liable under the Act for unintentionally submitting an invoice that contains a clerical error. However, the government interprets “knowing” broadly to include circumstances in which one acted with deliberate ignorance or recklessness with respect to the falsity of the claims.
Violations of the False Claims Act are punishable both civilly and criminally. As described below, civil and criminal charges carry different penalties; therefore, determining the nature of a False Claims Act investigation is a main priority at the outset of the investigation.
- Civil Liability (31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq.): Violators are exposed to civil monetary penalties of a maximum $21,563 per false claim in addition to repayment of up to three times the government’s damages.
- Criminal Liability (18 U.S.C. § 287): Violators face a maximum five-year prison sentence as well as criminal fines of $ 250,000 (individuals) or $ 500,000 (companies) for federal felony convictions and $ 100,000 (individuals) or $200,000 (companies) for misdemeanor convictions— for each
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Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP
Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP practices in healthcare fraud defense. We represent laboratories, physicians, and other medical service providers throughout the country who are facing investigations for violations of the False Claims Act and other healthcare statutes. Our attorneys have a proven track record of helping laboratories avoid criminal charges as the result of a False Claims Act investigation.
Call Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP today and speak with former federal prosecutors and established defense counsel about your case. All initial consultations are free and confidential.
Healthcare Compliance – Litigation – Defense