END FUEL-CARD FRAUD: Having strict rules and oversight will help to end fuel-card fraud among fleet-employed drivers. Image: Shutterstock / Danie Nel
CAPE TOWN, Western Cape - Nearly all fuel-card fraud stems from a fleet drivers and not external fraud, reports David Molapo, head of fleet management at Standard Bank.
Only about R4.64-million - less than two percent - of the R232-million fuel-card spend declined by Standard Bank Fleet Management in 2013 was external - meaning stolen or cloned cards used by outsiders. The remaining 98% was committed by drivers trying to pilfer from their employers – a depressing figure for fleet managers.
Molapo says fuel-card fraud is a significant problem for fleet managers across South Africa.
Organisations determined to tackle such theft, he said, should consider investing in a good fuel-card management system and implementing internal policies to prevent/discourage fraud.
“Our research clearly demonstrates that fleet managers should not only focus externally but also within their organisations, where most fuel-card fraud is committed."
So, what's the fleet manager to do...?
Rules to avoid fuel-card fraud:
• Each fuel card should be allocated to a particular vehicle
• It should be used only for stipulated purchases - fuel, oil, maintenance, tyres.
• Drivers should not order more than the stipulated amount then deliver it only into the card-associated vehicles fuel tank.
Safeguards to be implemented:
• Set a limit on daily fuel purchases.
• Fuel tanks must be filled and the vehicle driven the maximum distance before re-fuelling.
• Drivers must record odometer readings rather than leaving it up to the pump jockey.
• Fuel cards must never be left unguarded in a vehicle.
Molapo said: “Educate new drivers about the rules and have regular refresher sessions. Make it very clear that each driver is responsible for his fuel card. Rules could be set up in an agreement/indemnity that every driver must sign.
“If clear rules are the first essential component of a good fuel-card management system then the second is a monitoring/auditing system in which each vehicle’s statements are routinely checked by administrators responsible for the routine checks, who know the system and can flag irregularities.”
Rules for administrators, too:
• Unused cards must be destroyed.
• Cards must be retrieved when a vehicle is sold or when a driver leaves the company.
• Limit the number of administrators allowed to override declined transactions; set up oversight.
Molapo again: “A solid monitoring system will include regular comparisons between each vehicle's fuel consumption and the national average rand-per-kilometre for the same make and model. Higher fuel consumption may indicate fuel-card abuse, or at least a problem with the vehicle."
Monitoring a fuel-card system should be not only be a task but also a responsibility. When every irregularity is queried and followed up with the driver - no matter how small - you are conveying the message that fuel-card abuse is simply not worth it.
Molapo said: “Follow through when a driver is under heavy suspicion of abuse. Letting him quietly resign because laying a criminal charge seems to be too much hassle tells other drivers they can get off lightly. Spending time and even money investigating fraud can save a fleet a lot more by making it clear to drivers that fraud will not be tolerated.”
Molapo also advises fleet managers determined to reduce fuel-card fraud to consider an effective monitoring system able to validate and authorise fleet transactions on-line. Which, unsurprisingly after all the above, Standard Bank just happens to have...
It automatically checks every transaction against a set of rules:
• Have other items apart from fuel been bought?
• Has a minimum period lapsed since the last refuel?
• Has more fuel been bought than the tank capacity of the vehicle?
• Has the card been registered as lost or stolen?
Molapo said: “The system will automatically decline a transaction that does not fit such pre-programmed criteria and the driver will have to phone to request an override."
And his game will be up...