NORFOLK, Va., May 25 (UPI) -- More than $100 million has been bilked from U.S. taxpayers since 2003 by contractors posing as disabled veterans, federal investigators said.
The Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 was set up to provide sole-source government contracts to businesses owned by disabled vets, but six months after an investigation exposed widespread fraud, the practice continues, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot reported Monday.
Current law includes no penalties for such duplicity, and the system today is based on the honor system. Companies certify themselves as meeting the program's criteria by checking a box on a form, and there is rarely any follow-up to confirm eligibility.
"They don't kick anybody out of the program," Government Accountability Office investigator Gregory Kutz testified Monday at a hearing at Old Dominion University. "In many cases government contracting officers "knew exactly what was going on. They were facilitating it."
U.S. Rep. Glenn Nye, D-Va., has introduced legislation that would criminalize misrepresenting a business as owned by a disabled veteran.
"When unscrupulous businesses defraud the program, there are no consequences," Nye said. "They are stealing taxpayer money that's supposed to be going to our veterans."