Since 2008, Comerica Bank was chosen as the Fiscal Agent for a program that was created by Bureau of Fiscal Service, a division of US Treasury. Fiscal Service was created by Treasury to collect and dispense funds, with “Fiscal Agents” being banks or other institutions acting as contractors for Fiscal Service to implement the functions of collecting and dispensing federal money.
As with all government contracts, a contractor has to bid on the contract. Comerica Bank, as the Fiscal Agent for the Direct Express program (which dispenses Social Security, VA, and other funds onto a Direct Express debit card) was found to have submitted false and incomplete information on their bid application (as noted in federal reports). Not only did Fiscal Service ignore falsified submissions, a connection between Comerica Bank and Fiscal Service (which granted the contract) allowed Comerica Bank to alter the original agreement, enabling Comerica Bank to receive tens of millions of dollars while ignoring complaints from Direct Express cardholders. The cake was baked.
Veterans, Social Security recipients of all types, and other eligible persons, were subjected to violations of Regulation E (15USC1693), which governs many aspects of electronic transmission of funds at financial institutions. Cardholders were not receiving provisional credit after reporting fraud, fraud claims were being dismissed with no investigation conducted, no mobile alerts were given to advise cardholders when fraudsters were using their debit card account, and persons having no banking experience were managing this program. Comerica Bank used a call center subcontractor, Conduent, to handle all cardholder issues, and cardholders suffered greatly.
Veterans, and others, lost monthly payments. Rent, electricity, food, medication, and other monthly expenses could not be paid.
After over almost two years of constant “bombardment” of facts and narratives to OIG Treasury and a year of contact with the VA, we had a breakthrough: Steve Lepper (Maj Gen, USAF, Ret.) contacted me this week after having had conferences with VA Secretary Wilkie. The VA had previously endorsed Veterans using the Direct Express program for Veterans to receive benefits on a debit card. Our work in exposing the corruption and lack of oversight by Bureau of Fiscal Service resulted in Mr. Lepper, President and CEO of Association of Military Banks of America ( https://www.ambahq.org/ ) contacting me on Monday, December 16, 2019 to discuss a change in direction for VA benefits being electronically transmitted to veterans. On Tuesday December 17, 2019, Mr. Lepper sent me a copy of a press release announcing the official collaboration of the VA with the AMBA. This announcement is a great victory for Veterans and others against corruption and malfeasance within the Bureau of Fiscal Service, and promotes “Veterans helping Veterans.”
We could not be more happy for our Vets to now have their financial benefits protected.