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Nursing Home Worker Charged in Ghost Employee Scheme 

18 Oct, 2023 F.J. Thomas

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Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – Large organizations often rely on outside sources to verify previous employment and backgrounds, and verify hours worked. Worker verification is critical for healthcare, as indicated this year by numerous cases of worker identity theft, and false licensing. A recent case involving “ghost employees” highlights just how easy it is for employees of large employers to fall through the cracks, even with the newest technology as oversight. 

Last week the U.S. Department of Justice announced charges against a former nursing home scheduler after a federal grand jury returned an indictment on seven counts of wire fraud. According to the indictment, Alisha Richardson, 44, of Chicago worked for an area nursing home as a scheduling supervisor and devised a way to hire and pay “ghost employees” that did not exist.  

The nursing home used an automated timecard software that utilized hand scans paired with individual codes for workers to clock in and out of their shifts. Employees would clock in by scanning their hands to begin their shift, at which time they would enter their individual working code, and then do the same as their shift ended. The timecard system would then track their time to determine the number of hours worked, and their resulting pay. If a clock in was missed, the department head would submit a Missed Punch exception report to the Human Resources Specialist, who would then manually enter the time worked into their payroll system. 

As a supervisor, Richardson had the authority to hire Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). According to investigators, due to her position Richardson was able to use her manager code to link her own handprint to the individualized timecard codes for the “employees” she had hired that did not exist or actually worked elsewhere. From October 2017 to April 2019, investigators assert that Richardson was able to clock in and out as a ghost employee, and submit missed time punches to the Human Resources Specialist when needed. Due to the falsified records, it appeared that more employees worked at the facility than actually did.

 As a result of the false time records, the nursing home allegedly paid out over $100,000 for work that was never actually done. As part of the supposed scheme, payroll checks were deposited into bank accounts for which Richardson had access to, and for which she either signed or forged, as the employees did not exist. In cases where the employee worked elsewhere, the ghost employee would cash the check and then allegedly share the proceeds with Richardson. 

Principal Deputy Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division thanked the FBI and HHS-OIG for investigating the case. “These charges reflect the department’s commitment to hold criminals accountable for their wrongdoing. We thank the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General for their tireless efforts in investigating.”


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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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