CID puts stopper on financial crime
November 5, 2009
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- A Soldier makes a permanent change of station move and claims more for expenses than he is allowed.
A civilian employee feeds confidential information to a contractor during bidding for a construction project.
A senior noncommissioned uses a government purchase card to buy personal items.
Unfortunately, those scenarios commonly happen in real life throughout the military.
And when they do happen, people like Special Agent Perry Doegah get involved.
Doegah is chief of the Economic Crimes Team, which is part of Fort Jackson's Criminal Investigation Division.
"You name it, we investigate it," said Doegah, a member of the 37th Military Police Detachment. "Solving a financial crime is like a puzzle sometimes."
Such crimes are a detriment to the Army because monetary losses caused by criminal acts take away from the overall budget. Paying attention to detail and knowing how financial systems work are key to solving monetary crimes, he said.
"It's one of those things you have to be proactive to catch," Doegah said.
"They are known as silent crimes," he said. "You have to be proactive and go out and get the information you need."
Doegah said his unit typically gets involved in an investigation if the theft involves $5,000 or more. But in some cases, he said, the crime may not have a dollar limit associated with it.
There have been several recent cases at Fort Jackson involving the theft of $80,000 or more, Doegah said.
Common financial crimes include embezzlement and collusion, as well as fraudulent practices such as Reservists called to active duty claiming more for housing allowances than permitted.
Many of the high-dollar crimes are committed by people with an expert-level of knowledge about financial systems. Such crimes can be very difficult to detect, Doegah said, even for trained investigators.
"You have to follow the paper trail, and that paper trail can be very long," he said.
Part of their proactive efforts involve the Economic Crimes Team looking for loopholes in an organization's financial system that a would-be criminal might exploit.
"Sometimes it takes an outsider to notice something like that," said Jennifer Skuta, a CID special agent.
Skuta said because of the nature of the crimes, agents who investigate them must educate themselves on the often hard-to-detect clues that might give a criminal away.
"You've got to understand how money works," Skuta said. "The people who are committing these crimes are often the experts in their fields. If you don't educate yourself, they can get away with it."
Anyone with information about a financial crime at Fort Jackson is asked to call the Financial Crimes Unit at 751-7664.