There are two fundamental ways of engaging in timecard fraud. One method is charging hours to something other than is actually being worked. This isn't that uncommon, unfortunately. It usually involves the cooperation of management at some level and a breakdown in internal controls designed to keep that from happening. Having employees charge time to a cost-type contract when they are really working on a fixed-price contract is one example.
The second type of timecard fraud is charging time but not showing up for work, or arriving late, or leaving early. One well documented case involved a Government contractor who's employees charged overtime on their timesheets but were no where to be found at the work site. The increasing trend to allow employees to work at home is concerning here and employers (contractors) need to ensure robust internal controls and ways to measure performance (remember, 'trust' is not an internal control).
An example of a case involving the second type of timecard fraud was reported by the Justice Department yesterday in one of their press releases. The case involves a subcontractor employee who worked in a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF). On several occassions over a two-year period, this subcontractor employee reported to her employer that she was working inside the SCIF. However, the badge reader to gain access to the SCIF showed that she was not where she said she was. As a result, investigators estimate that the Government was overcharged by more that $100 thousand. That figure is likely significantly understated.
The unusual aspect of this case is that the indictment was handed down by a Federal grand jury. Hundred thousand dollar fraud does not usually involve a grand jury. Perhaps there is some national security implications involved here. The fact that the employee was also detained pending a detention hearing also suggests that there is more involved here than just timecard fraud.