False Claims Act

Congress enacted the federal False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729 - 3733, during the Civil War to combat fraud against the federal government by suppliers to the Union Army. The 1986 amendments to the False Claims Act were motivated in large measure by highly publicized accounts of abuses in the defense contracting industry. These amendments significantly expanded the role of whistleblowers through qui tam actions, increased financial incentives, and reduced a number of barriers to bringing actions against persons and entities alleged to have submitted false or fraudulent claims to the federal government.

Criminal penalties for false claims are also available pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 287, which allows for punishment of up to five years in prison and a fine calculated under the United States Sentencing Guidelines.