With Halloween arriving in less than two weeks, we suppose it only makes sense to cover a recent story involving “ghost” employees. As you may know, a “ghost” employee refers to a made-up or non-existent employee who is added to a company’s payroll. This is done in order to access a company’s payroll records and systems in an effort to commit some type of payroll or employee fraud.
Of course, the fake worker doesn’t actually perform any actual work for the company. However, the “ghost” employee is set up to receive a paycheck or other employment-related benefits. Fraudsters who create “ghost” employees often set up fraudulent bank accounts where they can deposit money that is essentially stolen from the employer. Many businesses attempt to prevent “ghost” employee fraud via such tactics as payroll record audits and employee ID verifications.
Former nursing home worker charged in scheme involving “ghost” employees.
As reported by the Office of Public Affairs (fittingly on Friday the 13th), a Chicago-based woman has been charged with no less than seven counts of wire fraud. 44 year-old, Alisha Richardson is a former nursing home employee. Court documents showed that she devised a scheme to defraud the nursing home she once worked for. Her scheme involved bilking funds by falsifying records to generate payments to individuals who never worked at the facility.
In other words, Richardson created “ghost” employees. She used them to devise false employment records. As part of her scheme, Richardson made it appear as if the fictional workers were employed as Certified Nursing Assistants. She logged false hours for the “ghost” employees causing the nursing home to issue paychecks to them.
Some “ghost” employees cashed the checks and shared the proceeds with Richardson.
The indictment contends that a number of the made-up workers gave their money to Richardson after retrieving it from the bank. It also alleges that, on other occasions, she forged endorsement signatures for the individuals and deposited the paychecks into her own bank accounts. In total, the nursing home paid out over $100,000 for work that was never performed.
The FBI and the HHS-OIG investigated the case.
Special Agent in Charge Mario M. Pinto of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) had the following to say about it: “Individuals who fraudulently obtain funds that were otherwise intended to support the delivery of health care services unlawfully redirect valuable resources away from people in need of medical care. HHS-OIG remains committed to working together with our law enforcement partners to identify and investigate those who allegedly engage in fraud targeting our federal health care programs.”
“These charges reflect the department’s commitment to hold criminals accountable for their wrongdoing,” added Principal Deputy Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, “We thank the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General for their tireless efforts in investigating this case.”
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