The weighbridge fraudmay be difficult to detect for industrial companies and may cause important financial losses. We present some of the main risks of weighbridge-related frauds and some best practices to prevent them.
An important financial impact on the long term for industrial companies
The risk of weighbridge fraud mainly affect the industrial companies which consume or sell bulk products: agricultural raw materials, construction materials, metals, bulk liquids… These products are purchased or sold according to their weight, and the fraudulent manipulation of the delivered quantities may cause important financial losses.
Let’s take the example of a plant in the food industry consuming several hundreds tons of cereals every day, all year long. The cereals are delivered by trucks with a payload of 30 tons. A driver of one of these trucks manipulates the weighbridge by 80 kg by getting out of his truck while it is weighed empty. In this way, the cereals seller will sell around 15 euros of cereals which have not been delivered, which may sound marginal compared to the truck payload. But if this driver does this at every delivery, 4 times a day, 250 days per year, the fraud will cost 15 000 euros per year to the plant. And if other drivers do the same thing, the prejudice will soon reach hundreds thousand euros…
Five risks of weighbridge fraud
1. Bad positioning on the weighbridge
A bad positioning on the weighbridge during the outward weighing will decrease the truck weight with the following consequence:
- decreasing the load weight when the fraudster purchases the materials
- decreasing the truck tare weight and increasing the quantity of products delivered by the fraudster
How to prevent it?
- Installing guide rails will avoid the risk of bad positioning along the weighbridge.
- To prevent and detect the bad positioning, security cams or sensors will help the weighing operator to make sure that the truck is placed correctly.
2. Double weighing
During a delivery of materials, the driver does two successive inward weighing with his truck loaded, before unloading it. Before leaving the site, he again does two outward weighing.
He will then invoice twice the quantities actually delivered. To explain the short timing, he may pretend that two vehicles arrived together and both delivered the site.
This type of fraud may sound impossible, however it does happen and requires the participation of corrupt weighing operators. In the North of France, this happened to a McCain potatoes plant in Béthune few years ago.
How to prevent it?
- Register the vehicles registrations at each weighing, to detect the multiple deliveries within a too short timing.
- Take an automatic photography of each vehicle weighed.
- Define an unloading circuit within the factory, avoiding the loaded vehicles to be weighed twice.
- Implement an automatic control of the payloads, to detect the deliveries with equal payloads.
3. Hiding an additional load
The loaded or empty truck hides an additional load during the inward weighing, such as a colleague or a container full of water. During the loading or unloading of the vehicle, the truck is also unloaded from this weight by emptying the container or the colleague leaving the vehicle. Its weight will then be lower during the outward weighing, increasing the quantity of materials delivered or decreasing the quantity of materials purchased. The driver himself can leave the vehicle during the outward weighing, while he was in during the inward weighing.
How to prevent it?
- Implement strict processes regarding the presence of drivers in the vehicles during weighing.
- Define a clear loading circuit within the industrial site, in order to prevent the risk of unloading hidden loads.
4. Partial unloading between two industrial sites
When a company has two distant sites, for example storage facilities and a production factory, there is a risk of diversion of the materials between the sites. A driver may unload a part of his load on his way, in a hidden warehouse or directly to a buyer.
How to prevent it?
- Do an outward weighing on the loading site and an inward weighing on the delivery site, and check often that both weighbridges are correctly calibrated.
- Control the duration of transport between both sites, and check the anormally long trips which may be due to a fraudulent unloading.
- If the company has its own transport service, install GPS trackers on the vehicles, always respecting the regulation and notifying the drivers.
- In case of suspicions, a private detective doing corporate investigations will identify the theft and the place where the materials are unloaded.
5. Alteration of the weighing data
A customer or vendor may corrupt an employee to alterate the weighing data of his purchases or deliveries. By changing the weights, he will decrease his purchase cost or increase his sales. The risk is very high when the weighing data is managed manually or within weak IT tools, such as Excel files for example.
How to prevent ir?
- Implement a safe weighing IT system, which keeps the track of any modification.
- Implement a procedure regarding the access to the systems, with a single username and password of each operator.
- Keep the weighing tickets for later controls.
In a nutshell...
To prevent the weighbridge fraud, it is recommended to secure the weighing and loading/unloading processes with strict procedures (loading circuit, weighing steps), security devices (cameras, sensors), and secure IT systems.
Having a tool for internal and external whistleblowers will also help preventing and detecting fraudulent behaviours and identifying fraudsters within the organization.
Last but not least, hiring a private detective will help identifying the fraudster and collecting evidence before a legal proceedings.
Illustrations: © Mettler Toledo