The false claim definition is important to understand when dealing with a claim. A claim involves the assertion of your rights of government property or money. A false claim is classified as an attempt to get the government to pay money to anyone that was not intended to benefit. There are many ways to file a claim, and by definition, it is done in a way to claim entitlement to money or property. Some claims involve:

  • Invoicing for goods or services
  • Calling to certify that a person is owed an incremental payment
  • An assertion that a person is in some way entitled to keep the money they have already received from the government

What is a Claim?

While most claims are made in writing, this is not a legal requirement. When a claim is filed, it will be directed to the government or someone who is authorized to act on the behalf of the government

Not everyone can assert a right to money owed by the government. For a claim to be made, the assertion will have to come from someone who will have access to the government's money. This can take the form of invoices or payment demands to an agency official.

Claims can also be made by general contractors and subcontractors that were involved in a government project even if the money does not come directly from the government. In situations where a subcontractor asserts a claim that is false to the general contractor who in turn passes the claim along to be paid by the government, the subcontractor would still hold general liability.

It is important to note that just because a claim is made does not mean the government needs to pay it.

Examples of Typical Claims

There are many types of claims from a number of industries that the government will receive each year. Some of the examples of claims that the government may receive include:

  • The producer of automobiles gives the government an invoice for vehicles sold to the General Services Administration.
  • An electronics company issues an invoice to an aerospace company that provides electronics for a NASA program.
  • A laundry service contractor demands payment for laundry service for the U.S. military.
  • A subcontractor gives a general contractor an invoice for a product, such as soap, that the general contractor then bills a military base for.
  • A physician submits a reimbursement from Medicaid or Medicare.
  • A researcher or scientist requests the renewal of a federal grant.
  • An expert witness gives a testimony for a federal lawsuit, sending an invoice for expenses.

What are False Claims?

The Supreme Court of the United States has broadly defined a fraudulent, or false, claim as all types of fraud that can result in a financial loss for the government. So, if a claim is misrepresented in any way, it could be deemed a false or fraudulent claim. This can include implying that something is true when it is actually false. For a claim to be considered false under the False Claims Act, the claim only needs to be fraudulently presented even if payment had not been made.

The False Claims Act was broadened by amendments in 1986 to include more transactions. Under the new amendments, a claim would be considered any demand or request for money from the government which was made directly through a contractor, grantee, or other parties who could receive federal funds.

Therefore, an individual can be charged with making a false claim just by the act of attempting to claim money that they are not legally owed, as well as depriving the government of their funds. This act was created by Congress in an attempt to prevent fraud by allowing individuals to be liable for filing a false claim regardless of whether or not the claim was paid yet. To prove in court that the claim was false, it has to be proven that a statement was made to induce a wrongful payment.

You can be held liable under the False Claims Act when:

  • You knowingly present a false claim for payment.
  • You knowingly make or use a false record to make a false claim.
  • You knowingly use or make a false record or statement to avoid, conceal, or change the amount of money to be paid.
  • You conspire with another to commit a violation of the act.

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