What does fraud reap? Elvis souvenirs

Friday, July 26, 2002

Here's every American consumer's dream: Someone gives you a credit card, but every time you charge something, the bill will go ... to somebody else.

There's just one requirement: You might have to justify your purchases, if someone asks.

Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge.

That's pretty much the situation thousands of Pentagon employees were put in. They were given credit cards to use for necessary, government-related spending such as official travel and meals. But they spent millions of dollars for their own personal use, purchasing computers, cruises, fine china, cigars, wine, Vegas trips, casino gambling and even Elvis Presley souvenirs from Graceland.

The Defense Department has been investigating these abuses for two years. The latest finding is that some 200 Army personnel used their cards to get cash at strip clubs to spend on lap dancers. The Pentagon report expressed some dismay that it couldn't find any documentation that the offenders had been disciplined.

Perhaps the Pentagon might ask itself this question: Why haven't all these cards been canceled? That's what parents do when their children run up huge credit-card debt. It usually puts a stop to the abuse -- or, at least, the parents no longer get surprised with big bills at the end of the month.

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