An NSA contractor allegedly scammed the Pentagon out of $100,000

NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.
NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.
Image: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File
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An intelligence analyst working as a contractor for the Department of Defense (DoD) has been charged with fraud after allegedly overbilling the government by more than $100,000.

An indictment filed this week in federal court says Melissa Heyer performed her day-to-day duties in a SCIF—a “sensitive compartmented information facility,” US government parlance for a secure room—at National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.

The feds say Heyer was “absent from her work location at the NSA” from January 2017 until March 2019, and “falsely represented to her employer that she had been working at the NSA SCIF when she was actually elsewhere.” As a result, the DoD reportedly wrongly paid Heyer and her company in excess of $100,000 for work she never performed.

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Heyer held a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) security clearance, according to charging documents. The company she worked for is not identified in court filings, but Heyer’s LinkedIn profile says she works at Booz Allen Hamilton as a human intelligence analyst. However, a source familiar with the matter told Quartz that Heyer left Booz Allen in Feb. 2015.

No attorney is listed for Heyer in court filings, and she could not be reached for comment.

A congressional SCIF located three levels beneath the US Capitol.
A congressional SCIF located three levels beneath the US Capitol.
Image: REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

NSA contractors have come under fire for falsifying timesheets in the past. A 2014 report by DoD deputy inspector general for intelligence Anthony Thomas confirmed 89 instances of intelligence contractors from a variety of firms fraudulently billing the Pentagon more than $4.3 million for work they never performed over the course of a decade. The average loss came to $41,790, with the largest clocking in at $265,698 and the smallest at $433. Those hit included the NSA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

“This stuff goes on all the time,” Matthew Aid, author of The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency, said in 2011. “NSA is just so awash in money, and it has so few people who actually know how to manage programs,” making the agency a prime target for corruption.