A U.S. Army veteran and his wife have received nearly $4 million by creating a fake U.S. Army website and running referrals into a recruiting program for financial rewards. Although “sleazy,” nothing can be done because none of it was done illegally.
According to The Washington Post, Senator Claire McCaskill (D.-Mo.) had expressed frustration about the scheme in a letter sent to Army Secretary John McHugh on December 15 and made it public through her office on Tuesday.
The veteran, described as a retired sergeant, and his wife set up a fake website called officialarmy.com in order to gather the names of potential recruits. They then turned those names over to the Army for financial rewards totaling $3.845 million.
“I am absolutely disgusted,” said McCaskill in a statement. “This is a staggering exploitation of public trust, of the brave men and women who volunteer to serve in the Army, and of taxpayer dollars. It’s past time for the Department of Defense to take a hard look at the people who perpetrated and approved this scheme, and for the Recruiting Command to put in place policies to better safeguard against future recruiting schemes.”
Last year, McCaskill and Army officials unveiled a widespread scandal focused on its recruiting practices. At the time, they stated they were investigating the actions of more than 1,200 people suspected of collecting more than $29 million fraudulently. In the first instance, the National Guard Recruiting Assistance Program was involved. This time it is the Army’s Referral Bonus Program.
The Washington Post reported that the couple increased their results by enlisting the assistance of the creator of bustedmugshots.com which moved it’s placing to the top in web searches. McCaskill said all the veteran and his wife did was take down the names and information of people who would of contacted the Army directly on their own if given the chance.
The Army’s bonus referral program started in January 2006 and ended in July 2009. McCaskill alleges that Army officials knew about officialarmy.com in 2007, but only investigated to make sure it was not infringing on service trademarks.
The sergeant who owns the site told an Army Criminal Investigation Command official that he had received certificates and letters of appreciation for forwarding the recruiting leads to the recruiting service. One letter allegedly came from the office of Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, then the commanding general of Army Recruiting Command.
“Unfortunately while the Army now acknowledges its mistake, it says there is little it can do,” McCaskill wrote. “As one official put it, ‘It’s sleazy but legal.’”