Airport Caterer -
Restaurant Fraud
  • An airport caterer engaged RPS to carry out regular test purchasing and surveillance.
    We identified a substantial fraud in a restaurant outlet.

    Several of the staff were thought to be implicated and we began observations.

    In the mornings, the restaurant served a choice of either cooked or cold breakfasts. Cooked breakfasts were ordered via an electronic ordering point that sent the details to the kitchen and were cooked to order. At the same time the ordering point opened the customer's printed bill.

    Bills should have been generated in the same way for cold breakfasts. However, as customers helped themselves at a cold buffet counter, the staff did not have to use the ordering point in order to obtain the food.

    After opening one or two bills for a cold breakfast, the staff were able to re-use the bills on customer after customer - provided they paid in cash.

    The staff took the payment to their workstations rather than the cashier and provided change from their own funds. The only time they had to close one of these bills was if a customer paid by cheque or credit card.

    We called for the breakfast bills for the previous three months and examined them. An analysis was made of the length of time bills were open (the time from when the bill was generated at the ordering point to being closed by the cashier).

    Bills were found to be open from anything between 10 minutes and 3 hours. Anything over 30 minutes was regarded as suspicious. These bills also provided details of the member of staff responsible for the bills and a list of 5 suspects was drawn up.

    Intensive test purchasing was carried out against the 5 staff over a period of several days. They were all apprehended on the same day and had stolen amounts ranging from £45 to £170. All were dismissed for theft - although the company chose not to prosecute.

    The fraud was estimated to be in excess of £100,000 per year.

    No member of staff had left the morning shift for 5 years. The reason for this only became obvious after our investigation.

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