Oklahoma-based oil company Continental Resources is suing a Williston oilfield company in federal court, claiming it was fraudulently overbilled by more than $2 million.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, is against Wolla Oilfield Services and its owner, Jason Wolla. Attorneys for Continental claim that Wolla directed his employees to produce fake invoices and bill Continental for work that was never done.
Wolla Oilfield Services started working for Continental in January 2017 and billed the company about $7.7 million between then and December 2019, according to the lawsuit. In September 2019, however, a whistleblower told Continental that Wolla Oilfield was systematically overbilling the company.
During an audit, Wolla told Continental employees that he was certain the company had only been billed for work that had actually been done.
But, Continental’s attorneys wrote, the audit uncovered that Wolla Oilfield had been submitting fraudulent bills.
“The timesheets Wolla Oilfield’s drivers submitted to Wolla Oilfield consistently showed drivers actually worked less than 10 hours a day on average, but that Wolla Oilfield billed Continental for significantly more,” the company’s attorneys wrote in the suit. “In fact, Wolla Oilfield employees would often bill Continental for more than 24 hours of work in a day. For example, one Wolla Oilfield employee billed Continental and other customers for 28 hours on August 5, 2019, and 29.5 hours on August 6, 2019, even though his actual timesheet shows he only worked 12 hours on each of those days.”
The company showed drivers how to falsify their timesheets to avoid suspicion, attorneys claimed in the suit.
As a way to determine what work was being done, Continental installed video surveillance at sites Wolla Oilfield workers serviced.
“This surveillance demonstrated Wolla Oilfield billed Continental for time its drivers were not even at the well locations,” the suit claims. “The surveillance footage revealed Wolla Oilfield personnel spent, on average, 15 minutes at each Continental well, but billed for several hours of time. For example, Wolla Oilfield billed Continental for six hours of work on September 27, 2019, on the Corsican Federal 1-8 Well Pad, but onsite camera images showed Wolla Oilfield personnel only spent one hour and nineteen minutes at that location on that day.”
The surveillance also helped Continental to determine Wolla Oilfield had billed the company for work that was never done.
“The visual surveillance also revealed Wolla Oilfield repeatedly “ghost billed” Continental — that is, billed Continental for work even though no Wolla Oilfield employees ever came to the Continental wells on those days,” attorneys wrote in the filing. “As described above, fraudulent billings from certain days were moved to other days where no work occurred in order to prevent Continental from detecting Wolla Oilfield’s excessive billing practices.”
The suit claims that Wolla Oilfield Services and Jason Wolla violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, commonly referred to as RICO.
In addition to the claim that Wolla Oilfield had overbilled Continental by $2.4 million over two years, attorneys for Continental wrote in the filing that Wolla Oilfield was under investigation by the FBI.
The suit was filed March 4 in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma. As of Wednesday evening, neither Wolla Oilfield nor Jason Wolla had filed a response.