False Claims Unit
The Attorney General works to protect the state against fraud and other financial misconduct through the enforcement of the California False Claims Act. Investigations and prosecutions brought pursuant to the Act have resulted in the recovery of hundreds of millions of dollars in wrongfully obtained public funds.
The California False Claims Act permits the Attorney General to bring a civil law enforcement action to recover treble damages and civil penalties against any person who knowingly makes or uses a false statement or document to either obtain money or property from the State or avoid paying or transmitting money or property to the State. The False Claims Unit of the Corporate Fraud Section investigates alleged violations of the Act based upon referrals from state, federal and local agencies, tips from members of the public and qui tam complaints, otherwise known as whistleblower complaints.
The California False Claims Act's qui tam provision permits a whistleblower to file an action to enforce the Act. Such lawsuits have resulted in some of the most significant recoveries to date under the Act. The whistleblower's lawsuit is filed under seal to permit the Attorney General or local prosecuting authority to investigate and, if warranted, intervene in the action. The whistleblower may be eligible to receive a share of any recovery, and the Act provides him or her with protection against retaliation. The California False Claims Act is a complex statute, and persons who are interested in bringing a qui tam action are encouraged to consult with a qualified attorney. The False Claims Unit has brought actions against, among others, companies who have sold defective products to the state, mining companies that have filed false reports to conceal the theft of natural resources and avoid paying royalties, and financial institutions that have filed false reports with state agencies.Members of the public who would like to advise the Attorney General of a potential false claim against the state should contact the Attorney General's Public Inquiry Unit.
Whistleblowers who bring qui tam actions and local prosecutors who bring actions involving state funds must serve a copy of their complaint and disclosure statement upon the Attorney General. In addition, the parties to any appeal involving the California False Claims Act must serve copies of all filings upon the Attorney General. These materials should be sent to:
- The Attorney General's Office
- California Department of Justice
- Attn: False Claims Unit
- 455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 11000
- San Francisco, CA 94102-7004
The False Claims Unit coordinates its efforts with other sections of the Attorney General's Office, including those responsible for Consumer Protection, Antitrust & Business Competition, and the supervision of Charities. Violations of the California False Claims Act involving the Medi-Cal program are investigated and prosecuted by the Attorney General's Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse.