Parking Meters – where did all the coins go?

$210,000 US = 840,000 coins = 21,000 rolls = 10,500 lbs = 4,800 kgs

If councils around the globe need any more evidence to support the upgrade to meters accepting non cash payments (credit card, phone, prepaid cards), this story might be it.  An employee of the city of Buffalo, NY has been arrested and convicted of pocketing more than $210,000 USD over a period of eight years.  His job was to fix meters and collect the money, but instead, he purposefully tampered with them so he could stash the unprocessed coins each day.   Mr Bagarozzo has been jailed for 2-1/2 years, despite his defense of having a gambling addiction, and needing to save for his children’s education.

The scam came to light when the Parking Commissioner noticed that modern pay stations were bringing in far more revenue than the old “quarter-fed” meters.  The city has reported that annual parking revenue has increased by more than $500,000 since the arrest of Mr Bagarozzo and one of his like-minded co-workers!

Parking-related fraud has been the subject of previous blogs, and one can probably bet it will make headlines again sometime, somewhere in the future.  Across many industries, the handling of cash has been known to cause a short-circuit in some people’s consciences with a concurrent sharpening of their capacity to devise elaborate methods to avoid detection.  So beware!

A practical recommendation might be to first eliminate the opportunity for fraud (if feasible); and if not, then perhaps consider a risk assessment and a regular audit–which just might be enough to stop folks thinking they could get away with it!


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