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Barrier fraud cheats Oyster users on London Underground

G4S Secure Solutions (UK And Ireland) : 06 November, 2009  (Technical Article)
G4S research discovers fare-dodging scam on London's Underground system whereby oyster card holders are deprived of their fare by "salmon flippers"
New research from G4S Secure Solutions (UK) reveals that more than 1.1 million Britons have failed to purchase a valid ticket for a tube journey in the last two years. Fare evasion on the underground network in the UK has almost doubled, increasing by 98% in the last year alone, according to the private security company.

According to the research commissioned by G4S, almost three quarters of a million (748,000) Britons admit to deliberately failing to pay for an underground ticket in the last 12 months, costing underground operators an estimated minimum of £2.9 million in lost revenue.

G4S, which is the only British Transport Police accredited security company in the UK rail industry, has identified a new phenomenon with the advent of the Oyster Card network for fare evasion, which has been termed 'salmon flipping':

1. The perpetrator pretends to put their Oyster Card over the reader while standing just in front of their mark or 'fish' (the salmon).
2. The passenger just behind the 'mark' assumes the passenger in front has paid their fare and puts their Oyster Card over the reader.
3. The gates open and the perpetrator steps through having 'flipped' (ripped off) an honest passenger into facilitating their entry, or exit to a station or platform.

G4S is warning passengers to be vigilant and to ensure that unscrupulous individuals are not passing through barriers via their valid tickets. It suggests that passengers that witness this crime should report it to station employees, security personnel or officers of the British Transport Police.

According to G4S, if all those who failed to purchase a valid ticket for the underground in the last 12 months were charged the standard penalty fare, they would have paid out £18.7 million in fines if these were all paid within 21 days or else a staggering £37.4 million.

Steven Taylor, Managing Director, G4S Rail and Maritime, said: "While criminal gangs use sophisticated techniques to clone tickets and try to circumvent card readers, thousands of Britons persist in sneaking through barriers to avoid paying. These travellers are taking advantage of legitimate fare paying passengers and depriving network operators of revenue that is vital to improve the travel network.

"Deploying revenue protection officers at automated barriers can prove effective in both discouraging people from attempting to board a train without a valid ticket and identifying perpetrators that persist in trying to beat the system."

The research reveals that in the last five years more than one-in-twenty (6%) adults admit to failing to pay for tickets for both underground trains and buses. Almost one-in-ten (9%) of adults using overland trains had admitted to dodging a fare at least once in the last five years. More young people admit to avoiding fares than older age groups. On the national train network alone, 2.3 million people aged between 18 and 34 admit to travelling without a ticket at least once in the last five years.
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