Timesheet fraud worth $100,000 discovered

A contractor made five false time-sheet claims, scamming the US government out of $100,000 false wages and payments before she was caught.

Melissa Heyer was charged with five counts of submitting false timesheets. These claimed that she had been working in a highly classified work environment when she had in fact been working elsewhere.

The US National Security Agency was the employer. They rarely pursue criminal charges for fraudulent timesheets, according to a national security attorney, so the escalation here was most likely due to the scale of the sums involved. Five such cases have been put forward in the last two years, but several of them have not been accepted as prosecutable.

Heyer could face up to five years for each count of fraud, though the sentences may all be run at the same time.


Switching from a manual time and attendance management system to an automated one will save you money and time, but perhaps most importantly it will reduce the chances of several types of fraud.

Timesheet Fraud

This is when employees who self-report their hours will deliberately enter incorrect information in order to alter their pay cheque. For example, overtime that they didn’t do, or falsifying shifts on premium pay days like weekends and Bank Holidays.

(Less overtly harmful forms include acts like taking a much longer lunch break than they recorded, or not recording the fact that they arrived 5 minutes late.)

If their manager doesn’t work alongside them (e.g. construction, some factory work sales or cleaning) then it can be very difficult to spot these fraudulent entries.

  • Our Solution

Changing to an automated system means that the workers must clock in and out every day in order to be paid correctly. Shift patterns can be entered into the software, so that it is obvious if a worker has skipped work, or is continually staying longer than they should be with no visible work output.

Clocking in and out with swipe cards or even proximity cards is not entirely free of fraudulent opportunities (since they can be swapped amongst workers), so next we will address …

Buddy punching

This has many different names, but is the phenomenon whereby staff members clock in or out on behalf of other people, thus putting incorrect times into the system..

While it is often done on a casual basis, such as someone texting their friend if they might be running late, there are horror stories of entire shifts messing around with their clockings and causing payroll havoc.

  • Our Solution

Buddy punching can only happen when the clocking-in system is not directly connected to the individual. For example, if your clocking-in is performed via a PIN or a smartcard.

Biometrics eliminate the possibility of this fraud, since not even identical twins have exactly the same fingerprints!

We offer fingerprint biometric clocking-in, so that you can be confident that the data is coming from the correct employee.

Payroll fraud

Finally, there is payroll fraud. This can take many forms, but we will focus on one common payroll process in a manual system: needing to transfer every single timesheet onto the computer (often Excel) in order to create a database from which they can start to run the payroll.

Not only is this open to natural human error (in misreading illegible entries, or in entering them with a typo), but it is also a prime spot for a criminally-minded employee to deliberately alter the data. This could be for themselves, or they could be accepting money to alter it for others.

  • Our Solution

Using an automated system from Time and Attendance UK removes this step completely. Our clocking data can be exported straight from the system in a format suitable for all of the major payroll systems. No more laborious transferring necessary!