The Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act (“Virginia False Claims Act) is the state-level counterpart to the federal False Claims Act for false claims in the Commonwealth of Virginia. While the federal statute concerns the presentation of false claims involving federal funds, the Virginia False Claims Act concerns the presentation of false claims involving state or local funds.
The Virginia General Assembly passed the Virginia False Claims Act in 2002 with an effective date of January 1, 2003. The Act prohibits the following:
- knowingly presenting or causing to be presented a false or fraudulent claim;
- making, using, or causing to be made or used a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim; and
- several other related acts of misconduct involving false or fraudulent claims.
“Claim” is broadly defined to include “any request or demand, whether under a contract or otherwise, for money or property” made to (1) a state agency, (2) a political subdivision of the state, or (3) a recipient of funds from the state or political subdivisions if the claim involves those funds.
Generally speaking, if a claim is false or fraudulent and involves states or local funds, it violates the Virginia False Claims Act. A person or corporation who violates the Act must pay the Commonwealth between $5,500 and $11,000 for each violation, in addition to whatever actual damages were sustained as a result of the violation(s).
Who Can File a Lawsuit Under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act?
Either the Commonwealth itself or a private individual (known as a qui tam relator) may bring a lawsuit for violations of the Virginia False Claims Act. When a qui tam relator initiates the lawsuit, the Commonwealth is provided an opportunity to investigate the claims and determine whether to formally participate or intervene in the lawsuit.
Even if the Commonwealth does not intervene, a qui tam relator may continue to pursue the lawsuit. If a qui tam relator is successful in the lawsuit after the Commonwealth decides not to intervene, he or she is entitled to receive between 25 and 30 percent of any recovery, in addition to his or her reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. A qui tam relator receives a lower amount (between 15 and 25 percent of any recovery) when the Commonwealth does intervene.
Is the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act Similar to the Federal False Claims Act?
The Virginia False Claims Act is modeled after the federal False Claims Act. Accordingly, “courts look to decisions interpreting the [federal False Claims Act] in considering actions brought under the Virginia FCA.”  This is particularly relevant given that there are not many cases interpreting the Virginia False Claims Act. While the federal False Claims Act pertains to false claims involving federal funds and the Virginia False Claims Act pertains to false claims involving state funds, the statutes are otherwise very similar – there a few minor differences.
Generally speaking, claims under the Virginia False Claims Act are brought at the same time as claims under the federal False Claims Act. For example, Medicaid is a federal healthcare program for low income individuals and is jointly funded by federal and state funds. Thus, if a doctor presents a false claim for payment to the Medicaid program, the false claim likely violates both the federal False Claims Act and the Virginia False Claims Act. However, the Virginia False Claims Act applies broadly to any false claims involving state funds, and there is no requirement that a false claim also involve federal funds.
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 Acts 2002, c. 842, eff. Jan. 1, 2003.
 Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-216.3(A).
 Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-216.2.
 Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-216.3(A).
 Va. Code Ann. §§ 8.01-216.4, 8.01-216.5.
 Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-216.5.
 Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-216.6(F) (“If the Commonwealth elects not to proceed with the action, the person who initiated the action shall have the right to conduct the action.”).
 Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-216.7(B).
 Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-216.7(A).
 Phipps v. Agape Counseling & Therapeutic Servs., Inc., 2015 WL 2452448, at *4 (E.D. Va. May 21, 2015); see also United States v. Universal Health Servs., Inc., 2010 WL 4323082, at *2 (W.D. Va. Oct. 31, 2010) (similar).
 U.S. ex rel. DeCesare v. Americare In Home Nursing, 757 F. Supp. 2d 573, 577 (E.D. Va. 2010) (“Medicaid is a program providing federal funding for state medical services to the poor in participating states, including Virginia…”).
 See e.g. id.