Fraud in the News

Cold case warmed up

On April 30, U.S. Marshals arrested a man who went by the alias Bobby Thompson; he'd been accused of stealing millions of donated dollars meant for aiding U.S. veterans. U.S. Marshal Pete Elliot was determined to uncover Thompson's true identity and found surprising news.

"Marshal Elliott conducted Google searches for cold case fraud fugitives with ties to military," according to the Oct. 1 U.S. Marshals' media release. He found an FBI wanted flyer for a cold case fraud fugitive, John Donald Cody — on the lam since 1987 — who looked very much like "Thompson." Cody's FBI fingerprints were a match.

The 1987 warrant charged Cody with interstate transportation of fraudulent traveler's checks from probate estates' bank accounts, false statements to an investment brokerage firm and false statements on loan applications. The FBI also wanted to question him in connection to an ongoing espionage investigation.

Fraud fighters never, ever give up

A 21-year government employee in India, Ashok Khemka, has been transferred out of his jobs 43 times because of his strict anti-fraud ideals. He survived just 80 days in his last position because he dared to confront the Nehru-Gandhi family, which has dominated Indian politics since independence.

"Anti-corruption activists accused Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of India's most powerful politician, Sonia Gandhi, of amassing tens of millions of dollars through a series of shady land deals since Gandhi's Congress party came to power in 2004," according to the Oct. 23, 2012, Independent article, "Indian bureaucrat hounded out of office 43 times for fighting corruption," by Simon Denyer of The Washington Post. 

Khemka, who at the time was director of land registration in the state of Haryana, read a newspaper article reporting that the shady land deals occurred in four districts in his purview. He requested that the relevant land records be sent to his office so he could conduct an examination. Khemka said that two district bureaucrats wouldn't send him the records because of "orders from the top."

Khemka threatened to go public with this information and received a message that night notifying him that he'd been demoted to a lesser job. The government denies the allegations. Khemka has received everything from a cold shoulder to death threats, but he still has become a hero in India. The country's anti-corruption activists vowed to stand with him, according to The Independent article.

He began his first anti-fraud crusade in 1993 when he refused to obey a local magistrate's command to use government trucks to drive people to a Congress party rally.

Haryana also fought the asbestos lobby and stopped the use of the material in warehouse walls and water pipes, according to the article. He also "blew apart a cartel supplying poor-quality bricks to the government and exposed the illegal transfer of prime land just outside New Delhi to a builder at a cheap rate, winning a national anti-corruption award in 2011," according to the article. "He says he donated the prize money to cancer and tuberculosis research."

Khemka now runs the state seed development corporation. 


A long way to go and a short time to recycle

Enterprising fraudsters are crossing state lines into California to illegally dump their ... recycling. California's generous redemption program has made it easy for crooks to haul in semi-trailers full of cans from Nevada or Arizona and leave with thousands of nickels. Also, in-state recyclers claim "redemptions for the same containers several times over or for containers that never existed," writes L.A. Times columnist Jessica Garrison. The fraud is rapidly depleting the state's $1.1 billion redemption fund. 

"Just over 8.5 billion recyclable cans were sold in California last year," writes Garrison. "The number redeemed for a nickel under California's recycling law: 8.3 billion. That's a return rate of nearly 100%. That kind of success isn't just impressive, it's unbelievable. But the recycling rate for certain plastic containers was even higher: 104%."

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