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A federal statute that makes it a crime to falsely bill the government or to engage in deceit in dealings with the government by short shipping or shipping nonqualifying goods and presenting false paperwork to cover up the misdeed. 18 USCA §§ 286-287; 31 USCA §§ 3729-3733.

Enacted in 1863, the False Claims Act “was originally aimed principally at stopping the massive frauds perpetrated by large contractors during the Civil War.” United States v. Bornstein, 423 U. S. 303, 309, 96 S. Ct. 523, 46 L. Ed. 2d 514 (1976). “[A] series of sensational congressional investigations” prompted hearings where witnesses “painted a sordid picture of how the United States had been billed for nonexistent or worthless goods, charged exorbitant prices for goods delivered, and generally robbed in purchasing the necessities of war.” United States v. McNinch, 356 U. S. 595, 599, 78 S. Ct. 950, 2 L. Ed. 2d 1001 (1958). Congress responded by imposing civil and criminal liability for 10 types of fraud on the Government, subjecting violators to double damages, forfeiture, and up to five years’ imprisonment. Act of Mar. 2, 1863, ch. 67, 12 Stat. 696.

Congress has repeatedly amended the Act, ...

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