Examples of industry fraud

Example 1

On jobs involving long runs of canopy fascia, unscrupulous sign companies have been known to “stretch” the length of the canopy when quoting. Filling stations, with their large overhead canopies, are particularly vulnerable to this trick.

For example: 50 metres of fascia becomes 60 metres, and the unsuspecting customer approves the quote because it’s usually priced against a pre-agreed schedule of rates – but they usually don’t think to check the actual linear metres that they are paying for.

If it is discovered, the excuse will usually be that it’s a surveyorCrew trained, Experienced and Equipped to survey and document sites.’s error, albeit that the over-ordered material rarely seems to be noticed or credited back to the customer. Our recommendation would be to periodically pace out the length of a reimaged canopy and compare it against the dimensions in the estimate.

Example 2

When Xmo Strata was founded, fluorescent tubes were used in almost all illuminated signage and required replacing periodically. A common fraud executed in the sign industry occurs when dishonest companies are asked to replace these tubes. Unless you are present to witness the tubes being replaced, how do you know that tubes from the firm’s previous job, down the road, aren’t being re-used in yours? It is possible that the components are second-hand, and will need replacing long before the expiration of their design life.

Imagine you have 25 retail outlets, each with four signs needing 40 tubes replacing. The cost of replacing one tube is, say, £5. With prior knowledge of the scam £20,000 could have been saved.

There is a partial solution. It isn’t foolproof, but it costs virtually nothing and makes life a bit more awkward for the fraudsters. Our recommendation is to insist that each crew is provided with a specific colour pot of paint and a few small paint brushes. Every time a tube is replaced, a dab of paint (of that year’s specified colour) goes on each end of the tube. Subsequent spot checks, conducted randomly, should also be built into the contract – and everyone should know this.

The spot checks will reveal the year in which the tubes were replaced. At the end of the year, the colour is changed for a different colour. You have to be strict about this: tubes which have no paint dabs have to be regarded as “failure to replace”.