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Equipment column: Kevin Eastwood

10 July, 2013
BOSS executive director
Page 18 

A major source of loss for retailers results from motorists who claim to have 'no means to pay'. BOSS estimates the industry lost more than 4m last year and its Payment Watch scheme has been developed to recover as much of this as possible.

Obviously, honest mistakes occur and many people do return to pay but others need reminding. The starting point of Payment Watch is to record and handle the debt in a professional manner, which in itself results in much of the money being recovered.

If however payment is not made, the debt recovery service starts to contact and pursue the debtor.

Many people pay at this stage but our records show that there are some motorists who offend repeatedly and never pay. BOSS is primarily concerned with the recovery of the debts while ensuring that those criminals who probably had no intention of ever paying are deterred, so we now have a system to investigate and report these cases to police.

BOSS has identified about 2,600 incidents of this type of serial 'no means of payment' offending and these are now included in over 450 case files. Improvements to central fraud reporting procedures have led to 113 serial offences being reported direct to Action Fraud the Home Office/National Fraud Office led initiative in 2013, resulting in increased police involvement.

An advantage of Action Fraud is that suspects' details are checked against other intelligence and retained in the event of future offending. The continued success of Payment Watch in recovering money and pursuing criminals depends on accurate and legible reports by retailers who are requested to retain any supporting video or still image evidence as this can be required long after the offence is reported.

Unfortunately some people don't learn, even when judicial sanction has been imposed. Numerous offenders have been prosecuted, cautioned or had cases resolved under local initiatives and several have had their details circulated as 'wanted' by the police. Under the BOSS scheme links between drive-off offenders, theft, multiple frauds and, in one case, terrorism offences have also been established and prosecuted.

BOSS continues to recover debts, identify multiple offenders and report them to police to deter those who fail to pay for fuel.