Johnny Dollar V4
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Meet America’s Greatest Expense Report Cheat


It may seem hard to believe today, but there was a time when one of America’s most-loved radio detectives was best known for cheating on his expense account. It is unlikely such fancy bookkeeping has ever made anyone else so beloved since.

Described as the man “with the action-packed expense account” for 12 years between 1949 and 1962, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar was one of the greatest detective programs of the Golden Age of American Radio. It was the story of a “fabulous freelance insurance investigator” who just happened to cheat on his expenses. Described as an “expert on insurance investigation” but a “genius at filling out his expense report,” Dollar would often tell clients in advance his report would be partially a work of fiction.

There was also at least one fistfight over expenses during the show’s run, with the fleese-ee later asking Johnny not to hold the altercation against him and promising greater largess if Dollar would only solve another case for the man’s insurance company, avoiding a huge claim.

Your expense account may not be “action-packed” and you and your boss have probably never traded punches over expenses, but it is a good bet that, like Johnny, your report has occasionally become a bit of fiction.

Companies expect employees to be honest, but what that means is subjective. For example, is it acceptable make up a couple of receipt-not-required expenses to make up for a lost receipt? Might a cab ride be created or merely amended to cover tips given for other services that lack receipts?

To the IRS, these might be problems. But many employers are comfortable with expense reports that cover what employees actually spent, even if some creative documentation is involved.
Other companies, however, expect receipts for everything and creativity in any expense-related matter is greatly frowned upon.

Whichever style of company you work for, ExpenseWatch’s online expense report system can solve expense report headaches. Reports are completed online and receipts can take the form of photographs of the paper originals, submitted electronically. Mileage can be computed and charge automatically at IRS-approved rates.

An electronic system, especially with a mobile app, makes it easy to enter expenses as they are encountered or at the end of the day, either of which is easier and faster than the drudgery of completing the report with faded memory when back home in the office.

And, yes, if you want to give the Johnny Dollar in your company what amounts to a license to spend while on the road, you can do that, too.

Get a 14-day free trial of ExpenseWatch expense and spend management tools at If you would like to hear the Johnny Dollar radio program – for free – visit the Internet Archive. Start with the five-day-a-week episodes from 1955.

(Posted 5-19-15)

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