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A recruitment campaign to boost the Army National Guard and Reserve at a difficult time in Iraq and Afghanistan is the focus of a wide-ranging Pentagon fraud investigation, including allegations of kickback schemes involving military personnel, internal documents show.
The alleged fraud involves programs that paid $2,000 bounties to soldiers or civilians who signed up as “recruiting assistants” and brought in new enlistees. Investigators have found evidence that recruiters for the Guard and Reserve who were not eligible for the bounties worked with some recruiting assistants to secretly secure and split up the money.
The transactions involved at least 1,706 recruiters and hundreds of the recruiting assistants — individuals who allegedly made the referrals and applied for the bounties. The alleged schemes involved the sharing of bank accounts between recruiters and recruiting assistants, who sometimes took credit for referring individuals who had already decided to enlist. In one case, dozens of recruiters and recruiting assistants shared a single bank account.
“Recruiters potentially stole the identity of personnel to circumvent controls or many have colluded with recruiting assistants to bypass controls,” auditors told McHugh.
One case of fraud involved Thomas Kaszas, a recruiting sergeant for the Georgia Army National Guard. As a recruiter, Kaszas was not eligible to receive any bounties, but he set up a bank account with a recruiting assistant at the First Bank of Georgia, according to a federal indictment.
Over nine months in 2007, Kaszas’s partner claimed credit for more than a dozen new recruits and deposited $24,000 in bounties into the joint account. Virtually all of it was later wired to another bank account controlled by Kaszas, the indictment stated. Kaszas pleaded guilty in September 2010 to five counts of wire fraud and was ordered to repay $26,000 to Docupak.