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Military fraud cases are complicated. The accounting is difficult, the regulations are complicated, and a military fraud lawyer needs to present the defendant’s contributions and good qualities to absolve them of guilt. If you have been charged with military fraud, read on for an in depth understanding of what these charges entail.
What is Fraud?
The Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 132, sets out some of the scenarios where a service member can be accused of fraud. Fraud covers a broad range of offenses from counterfeiting, forgery, or making false claims. When a person uses deceit to unlawfully take another individual’s possessions or services, they are guilty of a fraud offense.
A service member may also be accused of fraud if they are placed in charge, custody, or possession of funds that belong to the Armed Forces and they knowingly scheme to defraud the government by withholding a share of the funds. One of the most common military fraud cases are basic home allowance fraud and overseas housing allowance fraud.
Basic Home Allowance Fraud
BAH/OHA allowance rates are usually set by considering one’s location, dependency claims, and pay grade. BAH/OHA fraud does not simply mean benefiting from overpayment. It is considered larceny. It is comparable to submitting a falsified check to the bank and taking money that is not yours. Larceny charges can carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and dishonorable discharge from the service in accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice. A BAH/OHA fraud conviction can also include a forfeiture of pay and reduction in rank.
Examples of BAH/OHA Fraud
Some of the classic examples of BAH/OHA fraud includes:
False records about one’s residence
Family residing in a low cost address but claiming money for a high cost address
Falsely claiming that one has dependents or exaggerating the number of dependents
Falsified or fake marriage documents
Fake rental agreements
An illustrative example of BAH fraud is when a service member falsifies where they reside and arranges a fake marriage to knowingly defraud the government. OHA frauds mainly involve marrying foreign nationals when one is on deployment and using this position to defraud the government. When a foreign national marries a U.S. service member, they qualify for citizenship and will get a military dependent identification card. If a service member asserts that their foreign spouse resides in a higher cost foreign country, they qualify for a high housing allowance.
Liability for Military Fraud
To prove military fraud, the prosecutor needs to show you intended to unlawful deprive someone or the government of their property, money, or services. The prosecution needs to show that you were aware that the information you were giving was false or fraudulent. BAH/OHA fraud cases are tried according to the false official statements and larceny statutes. For a service member to be convicted, they must have filled a house allowance claim form with the intention of deceiving. Therefore, if the service member completed the claim form incorrectly, this is not enough for them to be charged. Moreover, to be deemed guilty of larceny, the prosecution needs to prove that the defendant received money they were not entitled to get and yet knowingly kept the money with the intention of never giving it back. Military fraud lawyers normally use the requirement to prove intent to sabotage the prosecution’s case.
Summing it Up
If you are accused of military fraud, you are probably facing a long time in prison with a discharge from official duty. In less serious cases, you may be demoted or dismissed for an indefinite period without pay. To survive a conviction for military fraud, you need a qualified military fraud lawyer to help disable the prosecution’s case and prove your innocence.
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