(1) As used in this section, the term: (a) “Claim” means any request or demand, whether under a contract or otherwise, for money or property, regardless of whether the state has title to the money or property, that:
1. Is presented to any employee, officer, or agent of the state; or
2. Is made to a contractor, grantee, or other recipient if the state provides or has provided any portion of the money or property requested or demanded, or if the state will reimburse the contractor, grantee, or other recipient for any portion of the money or property that is requested or demanded.
(b) “Department” means the Department of Legal Affairs, except as specifically provided in ss. 68.083 and 68.084. (c) “Knowing” or “knowingly” means, with respect to information, that a person:
1. Has actual knowledge of the information;
2. Acts in deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of the information; or
3. Acts in reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the information.
No proof of specific intent to defraud is required. Innocent mistake shall be a defense to an action under this act.
(d) “Material” means having a natural tendency to influence, or be capable of influencing, the payment or receipt of money or property.
(e) “Obligation” means an established duty, fixed or otherwise, arising from an express or implied contractual, grantor-grantee, or licensor-licensee relationship, from a fee-based or similar relationship, from statute or regulation, or from the retention of any overpayment.
(f) “State” means the government of the state or any department, division, bureau, commission, regional planning agency, board, district, authority, agency, or other instrumentality of the state.
(2) Any person who:
(a) Knowingly presents or causes to be presented a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval;
(b) Knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim;
(c) Conspires to commit a violation of this subsection;
(d) Has possession, custody, or control of property or money used or to be used by the state and knowingly delivers or causes to be delivered less than all of that money or property;
(e) Is authorized to make or deliver a document certifying receipt of property used or to be used by the state and, intending to defraud the state, makes or delivers the receipt without knowing that the information on the receipt is true;
(f) Knowingly buys or receives, as a pledge of an obligation or a debt, public property from an officer or employee of the state who may not sell or pledge the property; or
(g) Knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the state, or knowingly conceals or knowingly and improperly avoids or decreases an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the state
is liable to the state for a civil penalty of not less than $5,500 and not more than $11,000 and for treble the amount of damages the state sustains because of the act of that person.
(3) The court may reduce the treble damages authorized under subsection (2) if the court finds one or more of the following specific extenuating circumstances:
(a) The person committing the violation furnished the department with all information known to the person about the violation within 30 days after the date on which the person first obtained the information;
(b) The person fully cooperated with any official investigation of the violation; or
(c) At the time the person furnished the department with the information about the violation, no criminal prosecution, civil action, or administrative action had commenced under this section with respect to the violation, and the person did not have actual knowledge of the existence of an investigation into the violation;
in which case the court shall award no less than 2 times the amount of damages sustained by the state because of the act of the person. The court shall set forth in a written order its findings and basis for reducing the treble damages award.