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Criminal Resource Manual

921. False Claims

Title 18, United States Code, section 287--the false claims statute--provides in part:

Whoever makes or presents to any person or officer in the civil, military or naval service of the United States, or to any department or agency thereof, any claim upon or against the United States, or any department or agency thereof, knowing such claim to be false, fictitious, or fraudulent, shall be imprisoned not more than five years . . . .

See Project, Tenth Annual Survey of White Collar Crime, 32 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 137, 309-32 (1995)(discussing § 287). There is also a companion conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. § 286.

In 1863 Congress enacted a false claims and statements statute "in the wake of a spate of frauds upon the government." United States v. Bramblett, 348 U.S. 503, 504 (1955). As originally enacted the statute penalized presentment "for payment or approval" of false claims upon or against the Government. . ." (Bramblett, 348 U.S. at 504) as well as false statements made "for the purpose of obtaining, or aiding in obtaining, the approval or payment of such claim." On June 25, 1948, the statute was divided into 18 U.S.C. § 287 and 18 U.S.C. § 1001, respectively. 62 Stat. 749.

The Section 287 statute is designed to "protect the government against those who would cheat or mislead it in the administration of its programs" (United States v. White, 27 F.3d 1531, 1535 (11th Cir. 1994)), and it has been employed to combat fraudulent claims filed under numerous Federal programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. White (Medicare claims by a chiropractor); United States v. Hooshmand, 931 F.2d 725, 733 (11th Cir. 1991)(Medicare claims for tests); see also United States v. Abud-Sanchez, 973 F.2d 835, 836 (10th Cir. 1992)(Medicare and Medicaid claims); United States v. Siddiqi, 959 F.2d 1167, 1171-72 (2d Cir. 1992)(physician submitted Medicare claims for a period when he was out of the country); United States v. Nazon, 940 F.2d 255, 258, 261 (7th Cir. 1991)(Medicaid claims for lab work not done); United States v. Beasley, 550 F.2d 261, 263-64 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 863 (1977)(claims for costs of clinics never built).

[cited in USAM 9-42.001]