A recent shocking report shows a Defense Department employee in Virginia raked in a stunning $1.4 million in fraudulent overtime payments scammed from taxpayers – and got away with it for 17 years before finally getting caught.
According to the Washington Times, Michelle Holt, a civilian secretary for the Air Force at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, pled guilty last week to running a nearly two-decade-long scheme claiming to have worked 90-hour workweeks for 52 weeks out of the year, including over the holidays.
“In 2002, she claimed nearly $14,800 in overtime, on top of her base pay of about $29,000,” the Washington Times reports. “By 2004, her overtime pay was more than her regular wages, and by 2009 she was collecting an extra $100,000 a year, tripling her regular pay of less about $45,000. In 2017, the last full year of the scam, she claimed nearly $120,000 in overtime and holiday pay on top of her $51,324 salary.”
During one pay period, documents show Holt claimed an impossible 137 hours of overtime.
Despite having gotten away with it for so long, Holt's methods were frustratingly simple. Her lawyer, William Eric Johnson, said Holt would use a supervisor’s login information to go into the government’s pay system, then change and approve the massive amounts of overtime after her boss had already signed off on them. But stunningly, no one bothered to check the astounding numbers before cutting the checks, and somehow the incredible amounts of overpayment failed to trigger any red flags in the department’s annual budget.
In fact, Holt’s con job was only discovered during a “research project” conducted by the department’s inspector general over the summer.
While the government admitted to being stunned that Holt had gotten away with her scam for so long, the Washington Times said the DOD “clammed up” when asked how someone could have pulled off such a feat for nearly two decades.