News: NCIS, Marine Corps investigators reach FECA fraud milestone
Story by Lance Cpl. Justin Rodriguez
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - The Naval Criminal Investigative Service recently reached a milestone, completing their 50th conviction of an employee committing Federal Employees’ Compensation Act fraud aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Aug. 1.
The United States Department of Labor gives federal employees access to compensation benefits, which includes wage-loss benefits for disability, medical benefits, monetary benefits and vocational rehabilitation benefits.
Marine Corps investigators and NCIS are working to expel FECA fraud, which involves falsifying statements to receive federal workers’ compensation benefits and is punishable under Title 18 U.S.C. Section 1920.
In 1999, the commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point took an aggressive course of action to combat FECA fraud. A proposal was made to NCIS to hire full-time Marine Corps criminal investigators and assign them to NCIS and dedicate them to investigating and combating FECA fraud with felony offense investigations.
The Department of Labor pays out $3 billion a year for federal employees’ workers compensation. Of that figure, the Marine Corps pays $15 million annually in workers’ compensation, and $4 million of the Marine Corps’ workers’ compensation bill is paid by Camp Lejeune.
“When you provide false information for workers’ compensation, you’re committing a federal offense,” said Dana Steele, supervisory investigator with NCIS.
When a federal employee is convicted of providing false information and violating FECA regulations, they lose all benefits permanently. The convicted person is also subject to confinement and fines, the unlawful profit and must repay back to the government.
Most investigators and agents are based at MCAS Cherry Point, along with a few other agents based throughout the East Coast, but they are responsible for investigating all FECA violations for Marine Corps Installations East.
“Three primary factors make this program so successful,” said Thomas M. Smith, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of NCIS. “Hiring the right people, giving unwavering support to our agents and those involved, and a ‘cradle to the grave’ investigative approach. Our agents are determined from the beginning to the end of an investigation to convict the employee committing fraud.”
Since the program’s inception, the FECA fraud unit has recorded an annual cost avoidance of more than $1.3 million, and a future cost avoidance of over $49 million.
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