BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) fraud in the military refers to situations where servicemembers attempt to receive BAH benefits they are not entitled to or provide false information to increase their BAH payments. BAH is a monetary allowance provided to military personnel to help cover the cost of housing when they are not provided with government housing. There are also a number of other kinds of pay and allowances that can be obtained by fraud or false pretenses.
Here are some common forms of BAH fraud and other types of obtaining pay and allowances that could violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ):
- False Dependency Claims: Some servicemembers may falsely claim dependents to receive a higher BAH rate that corresponds to their claimed family size.
- Inaccurate Housing Locations: Someone may submit fraudulent documentation, such as fake leases, to show that dependents are living in a certain location during a deployment when they are not in order to receive a higher BAH rate for the geographic area.
- Sham Marriages: A servicemember may marry someone solely for the purpose of obtaining government benefits, which is a form of fraud.
- Dual BAH Claims: Married service members may attempt to receive BAH for both their primary residence and a secondary residence, which is not permitted.
- Failure to Report Changes: Servicemembers are required to report changes in marital status, family size, or housing arrangements that would affect the BAH rate, such as divorce, and failing to do so could be a form of fraud.
- Off-Base Residence While Living On-Base: Receiving BAH for off-base housing while actually living in government-provided housing on a military base could be a form of BAH fraud.
BAH fraud can be a serious offense and is something that can be investigated by CID, NCIS, and AFOSI. Penalties for those found guilty of BAH fraud can include disciplinary action, rank reduction, loss of security clearance, fines, and even imprisonment.
Defending against an allegation of BAH fraud
If you are facing an allegation of BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) fraud in the military, it’s essential to take the situation seriously:
Consult with Legal Counsel:
Seek immediate legal advice from a civilian attorney experienced in military law. This is a critical step, as your attorney can provide guidance specific to your case and help protect your rights throughout the process. We can help with all the following steps to help obtain the best result possible for your case.
Collect all relevant documents and records that can support your case. This may include lease agreements, utility bills, pay stubs, PCS orders, divorce decrees, and any other documents that demonstrate your entitlement to the BAH rate you received.
Do not immediately give them to investigators. Talk to your attorney first to decide what the best course of action is. “Cooperating” with investigators can – and often does – backfire and make the situation worse for you.
Review the Allegations:
Understand the specific allegations against you and the evidence that supports these claims. Your attorney will help you analyze the case against you. She will help you figure out what UCMJ charges may be applicable to your case. She will also identify weaknesses or inconsistencies in the allegations to prepare you for potential outcomes.
Maintain Open Communication:
Stay in close contact with your attorney and follow her advice. Be honest and transparent with your attorney about all aspects of your case, as this will help her provide the best possible defense.
Build a Strong Defense Strategy:
Work closely with your attorney to develop a strong defense strategy tailored to your case. This may involve challenging the evidence presented against you, demonstrating errors or inaccuracies in the allegations, or showing that you had a legitimate reason for any discrepancies.
You always need to keep performing at your highest possible level while you are under investigation. Doing so will help with sentencing, if that is what happens in your case. You also need to work with your attorneys to get whatever mitigation evidence they ask for from you, such as awards and decorations.
Be Patient and Composed:
Legal proceedings can be lengthy and stressful. It’s important to remain patient and composed throughout the process and trust your attorney’s guidance. If you ever have questions about your case, KMD has a team of people here to assist you and answer those questions.
Remember that BAH fraud allegations are serious and can have significant consequences. An experienced attorney is crucial in helping you navigate the legal process and mounting an effective defense to protect your rights and reputation.
Contact KMD for a free case evaluation.