Bekins pays $2 million to end double-billing foul up

| 3/25/2002

Illinois-based Bekins Van Lines has agreed to settle charges it double billed some moving expenses for about 200 military personnel, federal prosecutors in Indianapolis announced.

The Indianapolis Star reported that U.S. Attorney Susan W. Brooks said government investigators found Bekins submitted 328 invoices containing duplicate or even triplicate charges to the Defense Department's finance center in Indianapolis, IN.

The bills resulted in overpayments to Bekins of $1,093,356 between March 2000, about the time Bekins began submitting its invoices electronically, and May 2001. Brooks said the overcharges resulted from poor billing practices, not criminal intent.

Scott Ogden, Bekins' general counsel, told the paper the problem was a "glitch" in the company's billing system. However, he said the finance center's system should have identified previously paid charges. Ogden said the company fixed the problem as soon as it was found and, "we worked out an arrangement to pay the money back."

Under the federal False Claims Act, government contractors are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of their billings. Companies that submit false claims are liable for up to three times the government's loss, plus a civil penalty.