Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Some 1,200 Army recruiters, including top officers, are suspected of fraudulently collecting cash rewards intended for people who referred recruits to the service.
About $29 million was lost by the military to the said suspects, who falsely claimed payments under the Recruiting Assistance Program (RAP), and the loss could top $100 million as thousands others who collected the recruit referral incentive will be investigated until 2016, Maj. Gen. David Quantock, the Commanding General of U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, told lawmakers at the hearing on the fraud Tuesday.
The Army National Guard launched the RAP in 2005 to raise the number of recruits and meet the demand for soldiers needed in the Iraq war. Under the program, so-called recruiting assistants are paid $2,000 to $7,500 when people they refer to Army recruiters enlist. National Guard members not on active duty, retirees and other civilians were allowed to act as informal recruiters.
However, the assistants, recruiters and other Army personnel were found to have recruited people who were already going to enlist or had already enlisted just to claim the reward money. Recruiters claimed that recruits who enlisted were referrals of recruiting assistant and after the latter collected the bonus, they would split the money.
School principals were also involved by providing personal information of students who were enlisting and then collecting the bonus.
The fraud was discovered in 2007 by Docupak, the contractor administering the RAP. Initial Army investigation found a few cases of fraud but the number of cases grew by 2010 and officials realized it was a widespread problem, Quantock told lawmakers. The investigation was widened in 2011 leading to the detection of more suspects. In February 2012, Secretary of the Army John McHugh terminated the program and ordered more investigation to identify all those involved and recover the stolen money.
Five individuals illegally collected nearly $1 million combined, according to Quantock. So far, 104 criminal cases have been adjudicated and 16 people have been imprisoned.