Former army officer accused of invoice fraud
Invoice fraud can hit any organisation, from private sector firms to public sector bodies in any nation around the world, as yet another case has shown.
A former US army soldier is accused of stealing and laundering more than $100,000 from his country's government during a deployment to Iraq.
Texan Abuzuike Ukabam had been working as a purchasing agent for the army in 2006 when the fraud is said to have occurred.
He was responsible for processing invoices from Iraqi contractors working for the US military and ensuring that bills were settled on time and in full.
But authorities claim he inflated the invoices to make it seem as though the work was costing more than it actually did. The contractors were being paid the original amount agreed and Mr Ukabam pocketed the difference, it is alleged.
He was arrested in Los Angeles this week and charged on a nine-count indictment that includes accusations of wire fraud, theft of government property, money laundering and making false statements.
It is not the first time the US government has been defrauded in this way. In May is was reported that Kerry Khan, a former program manager for the US Army Corps of Engineers, had been involved in a $30m invoice fraud, bribery and money laundering scheme.
Together with Michael Alexander, another ex-program manager for the US army, he is said to have submitted inflated invoices over a period of five years until the fraud was discovered last October. Mr Khan admitted to receiving more than $12m through the fake invoices himself.
Of course there is no magic formula that can help businesses or public bodies combat invoice fraud, but adopting automated processes like e-invoicing can certainly help to minimise the risks and enable fraudulent transactions to be picked up more easily.