Finding yourself on the wrong end of a fraud case can impact you for the rest of your life. Finding yourself in such a case prosecuted against you by the federal government can make you feel truly helpless. The False Claims Act, enacted in 1863, is designed to punish those who submit false claims for money to the government.

The False Claims Act was originally designed to curb defense contractors from defrauding the Union army during the Civil War. It persists today to encourage whistleblowers to come forward with false claim suits. As a private citizen engaging in a qui tam lawsuit in the name of the federal government, you can receive a portion of whatever money the case yields.

Or you may find yourself defending against such a claim.

What is the punishment for a false claim?

If found guilty of defrauding, defendants may be ordered to pay up to triple the amount of damages the government has suffered. They may also be forced to pay a fine ranging from $5,000-$10,000.

Do defendants have any legal recourse?

But what if a “false claim” claim is itself false? Or what if you were unaware of the oversight? Good people sometimes find themselves in bad situations, and the defense in such a case comes down to organization and intent. You are still innocent until proven guilty—beyond a reasonable doubt.

You have the right to defend yourself. Even if the evidence weighs heavily against you, you still deserve a fair and reasonable sentence. In the case of charges of fraud, it is vital to know what your financial records reveal so that you can show precisely what you were or were not aware of regarding the claims against you.