BAH Fraud and OHA Fraud

Charged as Larceny Offense

The ballooning U.S. Budget deficit and proposed cutbacks in military funding have driven the Armed Forces to reduce fraud in Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA). Law enforcement uses targeted investigations and random audits to uncover and prosecute BAH and OHA fraud cases.  Those most at risk for being investigated or audited are service members receiving a housing allowance in a high-cost of living area. Government hit lists are easy to generate, and auditing of a service member’s allowances is most often accomplished by comparing Leave & Earnings Statements (LES) against other military and civilian financial documents to see if discrepancies exist. Those files with discrepancies are flagged for deeper inquiry.  

If you’ve been accused of BAH fraud or OHA fraud, your next move will substantially alter your future. Defending yourself could exonerate you of all wrongdoing. Pleading guilty could leave you dishonorably discharged, and drowning in debt.

Defense Travel System (DTS) Fraud

A house with money illustrating BAH fraud

It’s not just BAH and OHA fraud that is being investigated and prosecuted. Audits are also being conducted on DTS vouchers to ensure that claimed travel-related costs were actually incurred and that the service member actually traveled on the claimed TDY or TAD. The military strictly scrutinizes all travel and reimbursement claims submitted through DTS.

Some service members attempt to abuse the system by creating fraudulent travel authorizations for unauthorized missions, extending travel without justification, and claiming higher expenses than were actually incurred.

If you are a frequent TAD/TDY traveler and utilize the DTS system regularly, you could be the target of a DTS audit or investigation. This is especially true if you frequently travel to high-cost locations such as Hawaii, Japan, Okinawa, or Korea.

Typical Examples

Law enforcement look for similar or familiar BAH and OHA fraud scenarios.  

  1. A service member uses a false location for his or her dependents in order to obtain a higher BAH rate than allowed. For example, an O-3 living in Korea with dependents in Fort Bragg, NC, would be entitled to $1,515 per month in BAH. However, if the officer falsely claimed that his dependents were living in Honolulu, Hawaii, he would receive $3,132 per month. During a one-year unaccompanied tour, this could add up to nearly $20,000 in unauthorized entitlements.
  2. A service member at Camp Humphreys, Korea, with a wife in the Philippines, uses a fraudulent lease or rental agreement to receive a higher OHA payment. Overseas, a service member is not paid a fixed amount of money for his housing, but rather the exact rate of his rent (up to a cap). A service member might fabricate a false rental agreement and submit the fictitious amount for reimbursement. If the spouse was actually paying $400 a month living in the barangay, but the service members used a fraudulent lease saying his spouse was paying $2,500 a month living in Makati, the fraud would be $2,100 a month. After one year, this would equal nearly $25,000 in unauthorized entitlements.  
  3. A service member claims he is married when he is not, or fails to inform Finance that he has been divorced.  For example, a married E-6 stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, would receive $2,664.00 per month from BAH. If that same E-6 were single, he would only receive $2,100.00.  Over a one-year period, this could lead to an accumulation of over $6,000 in unauthorized entitlements.
  4. A service member is stationed at Fort Shafter, Hawaii and travels TDY to Camp Zama, Japan and Torii Station, Okinawa.  On a trip to Camp Zama, Japan, the traveler lists his destination in DTS as “Tokyo City” instead of “Camp Zama” knowing that the “Tokyo City” location authorizes $404 dollars a day in total per diem and the “Camp Zama” location authorizes $288 per day in total per diem.   The service member is TDY to Camp Zama, Japan for 10 days and files his DTS voucher upon his return.  Based on his claimed location of Tokyo City, as opposed to Camp Zama, Japan, he received over $1000 in unauthorized entitlements.
  5. A service member submits an authorization in DTS for travel to Bangkok, Thailand when no mission there exists. His friend is the approving authority for DTS and the two make a deal (known as a conspiracy) to approve the trip in exchange for receiving 50% of the money from the travel claim. The trip is approved in DTS, orders are issued, and the service member travels to Bangkok and enjoys himself on Soi Cowboy in Sukhumvit for a week. After returning, he files a DTS claim for reimbursement for his week in Thailand, his buddy approves the voucher, and they payment is split between the two of them. Both service members have likely committed conspiracy and DTS fraud.

Court Martial Defense Lawyer for BAH, OHA and DTS Fraud

If one of these situations applies to you, or if you have been targeted in an audit, you can expect that law enforcement agents will access and evaluate all of your financial documents, including anything that you signed or submitted to Finance. The agents will likely obtain your lease agreements, mortgage and bank records, cell phone records, relocation/PCS documents, and other documentation relevant to their investigation.  Even if you were overpaid because of an innocent error, law enforcement will do everything possible to prove that you intended to commit fraud and steal government funds.

The truth is, not every case of BAH, OHA, or DTS overpayments involves criminal action. Often times, the Joint Federal Travel Regulation (JFTR) and overseas financial regulations are so complicated and onerous that a service member makes an honest mistake. Other times, the fraud is obviously intentional.

Either way, Bilecki & Tipon has the experience and attention to detail needed to take on all levels of military financial fraud allegations.

Our lawyers have successfully represented a vast array of service members charged with larceny and fraud, and in certain cases, have prevented charges from ever being preferred.

If you are being investigated for or are currently charged with larceny or financial fraud, contact Bilecki & Tipon to discuss all of your options and level the playing field.

A History of Winning

While all cases are different, Bilecki & Tipon has experience defending and winning BAH, OHA, and DTS fraud cases.  The following examples are from actual cases in which we have tried and won.
  • A Navy Senior Chief was accused of conspiring with another Sailor to use the DTS system to defraud the government of nearly $100,000.  The two Sailors allegedly created travel authorizations for nonexistent missions and then charged the government for personal travel.  Our client and the alleged co-conspirator were both the approving and authorizing officials for each other in the DTS system.  The government charged both Sailors with dozens of specifications of conspiracy and larceny.  Bilecki went on the attack, focusing on deficient command controls and DTS system oversight.  After eighteen months of relentless Bilecki challenges, a deal was brokered, most of the charges were dropped, the Senior Chief was allowed to retire, confined for only four months, received an honorable discharge, and retained his military retirement. 
  • Bilecki’s client was charged with nearly $30,000 in fraud for allegedly obtaining BAH, OHA and Family Separation Allowance (FSA), by claiming that her husband was residing in Brooklyn, NY. The government claimed that not only did her husband not live NY, he was a native of Trinidad, was not a US citizen, and his whereabouts were actually unknown.  Although the case initially seemed almost impossible to win, Bilecki demanded a jury trial and tenaciously fought all of the charges.  Bilecki kept the majority of the CID’s investigation out of evidence and after a weeklong trial, the client was found not guilty of all charges and specifications except for a portion of the Family Separation Allowance charge. 

Contact Us

In addition to nearly 20 years of experience as a trial attorney, Attorney Timothy Bilecki has an undergraduate degree in finance from Boston College, is a graduate of the prestigious Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, and is an MBA candidate at the Babson College F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business. 

He and the entire team at Bilecki & Tipon understand how to defend these types of financial fraud cases. If you are currently accused of or charged with larceny, BAH fraud, OHA fraud, DTS fraud, or any other military related financial crime, contact us immediately to discuss all of your options, not just a guilty plea.

Court Martial Defense For Larceny & Financial Fraud

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