Awareness key to preventing fraud

  • Published
  • By Air Force Office of Special Investigation
  • Detachment 405
Billions in taxpayers' dollars are lost annually to fraud, waste and abuse within the Department of Defense. As a result, the public has lost confidence in our ability to be effective stewards of appropriated funds, which has resulted in a reduction of buying power for equipment, facilities, etc.

Fraud can be committed by anyone and unfortunately it is sometimes with the aid of DoD members. There have been instances of DoD employees creating or participating in the ownership of outside businesses for the purpose of committing fraud through their ability to influence the awarding of contracts, and Government Purchase Card, or GPC, purchases.

Many people wonder how they can help prevent fraud and the answer is very simple - AWARENESS. Your level of awareness can be heightened through briefings, pamphlets and a work environment that fosters the prevention and detection of fraud.

Normally there are some indicators leading up to any criminal act, and fraud is no different. Downgrading serviceable material to scrap is a common way fraud is committed. Each serviceable item loses its identity once it is written off as scrap and simplifies the act of theft.

Occasionally, contractors utilize substandard material, better known as "product substitution," which is a large issue that plagues the Air Force. The substitution of substandard products can create a potential safety risk for personnel and cost the Air Force millions of dollars in maintenance and replacement costs.

In addition, the Air Force is often mischarged in labor costs, which is an ever-present concern with the significant number of stimulus projects being funded by Congress. Labor charges can be applied to any type of contract, which makes this a widely used method by companies.

GPC transactions account for approximately $1.5 billion annually of the total Air Force budget. A key vulnerability identified in past assessments depicts squadrons utilizing the GPC to fund small construction projects which are susceptible to fraudulent activity. Any project under $2,000 is considered to be a small construction project, which could easily become a target if the cardholders and billing officials are not keeping accurate records of the work being performed.

In addition, environmental crimes not only harm the base populace, but also may cause extensive damage to the local community surrounding the installation. This type of negligence requires extensive man-hours and funding to clean up. So if you suspect a company or government employee of illegally dumping toxic chemicals into the environment, remember these chemicals could be introduced into the water supply.

If you suspect fraud, contact your chain of command, the 42nd Air Base Wing Inspector General at 953-3499, or AFOSI Det. 405 at 953-7094.