It’s being called “one of the largest criminal investigations in the history of the Army,” and when one considers how big the US Army is, that’s saying quite a lot.
Over 800 soldiers are now facing a criminal investigation for fraudulent kickbacks received during the Recruiting Assistance Program, which began in 2005 to try to increase recruitment amid the Iraq War build-up.
The program meant to give soldiers bonuses for recruiting friends to join up, and was explicitly not intended to include full-time Army recruiters. That was the point, to get people who aren’t recruiters to recruit people too to make up for the shortfall.
So what happened? The full-time recruiters decided to get in on the thousands of dollars in bonuses for each new recruit, and figured out they could by putting their recruits in under someone else’s name.
In some cases they forced lower ranked soldiers to do it for them. In other cases they just signed up someone they didn’t even know and had the bonuses direct deposited into their own accounts. One recruiter is said to have made $275,000 in illegal kickbacks, while four others made over $100,000. Hundreds of others were involved in smaller amounts.