By Debbie Gregory.
Currently, Army criminal investigators are examining an outbreak of fraud that involves nearly 1,200 soldiers. Included in the number of suspects are approximately 200 officers, including 2 generals and many more senior officers. The widespread fraud spawned from a recruitment incentive system called the Army Recruiting Assistance Program (A-RAP).
The DOD launched A-RAP in 2005 when the Army was struggling to meet its recruitment goals during the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It had variants in the Army Reserves (AR-RAP) and in the National Guard (G-RAP).
The RAP programs worked by having soldiers sign up to be “recruiting assistants”, and they could earn between $2,000 and $7,500 for each new soldier that they helped recruit. For most newly enlisted recruits, the recruiting assistant would receive $1000 when they completed basic training and then another $1000 when the recruit completed their Advanced Individual Training (AIT). The Army, Guard and Reserves promoted the program as an easy way to make money. The recruiting assistants were paid as contractors of the Docupak, the company the Army hired to run the program.
The incidents of fraud occurred when suspects, including soldiers and civilians, would obtain the names of newly enlisted soldiers and claim them as their own referrals for the cash bounty. Enlistees names were often obtained from recruiters, and the suspects would kickback a payoff to the recruiters for their part in the scam.
Official Army recruiters were barred from collecting bonuses directly from the various RAP programs. But it wasn’t hard some to find a way to make a profit from the reckless program.
As uncontrolled as the RAP programs were, the bonuses helped the Army meet its recruitment goals during a time of war. It is estimated that the A-RAP program paid out more than $300 million for roughly 130,000 enlistees.
The Army was originally alerted to the fraud by Docupak, the marketing firm that ran the program. In 2011, the Army’s audit agency launched an audit of the entire program. The Army terminated the A-RAP program in February, 2012. The fraud was so rampant that Army investigators estimate that the case won’t be completed before the fall of 2016.