Case Study - Fingers in the Till

| Author: Melvyn Rattenbury [Member (F/1691)] | Filed under: Case Studies
Case Study - Fingers in the Till

We were approached by a client who owned a restaurant and cocktail bar who spent a lot of time abroad. He noted that his takings were down and suspected his bar staff were pocketing money.

He explained that it was normal for people to have a meal in the restaurant area and then to retire to the cocktail bar upstairs (where he suspected his profits were failing). The client wanted us to do the same; have a meal first so as not to 'blow' our cover and then retire upstairs to observe the bar staff who he suspected of pilfering.

We entered the restaurant (male and female) and ordered our meals. Meals arrived, but were not exactly as ordered so were taken away and replaced. The Maitre' D gave us both glasses of wine by way of apology. Again they were not what we had ordered so once more meals were taken away and replaced. The Maitre D' informed us that for our trouble both of our meals would be free and we were each given another free glass of wine. We were asked if we were going to the cocktail bar and said we were. The staff member then informed us that our first two cocktails would be given free for our trouble. A very generous offer!

Upstairs in the cocktail bar the staff were told we were to have our first two drinks for free. This gave us the opportunity to get friendly with the staff and we were quickly on first name terms.

We were informed beforehand that all cocktails were roughly the same price, also given the price of shots etc. Each of us had a tally counter, one of which we would click when a cocktail was served and the other when shots were served.

It soon became obvious that the bar staff were friends with two males at the bar who were not being charged for their numerous drinks.

Throughout the evening both bar staff were observed mixing cocktails to order and taking payment from the customers for the correct amount in cash.

However, a pattern emerged whereby both staff members at regular intervals and seemingly independent of each other, were entering the cash in to the register and providing the requisite amount of change to the customer whilst ringing up a nominal amount or indeed '00.00' on the register. The till was effectively being loaded with excess cash which would not show on an audit of the till roll at the end of the evenings trading.

This dupe was carried out on numerous occasions by both staff members in a slick and clearly practiced manner.

They were also observed giving out a number of shots free of charge.

On each occasion, the cash was entered in to the till in its entirety. No cash was seen to be pocketed. This was true of both staff members. The modus operandi was clearly to overload the till and to share the excess proceeds on cashing up at close of business.

The client was presented with a report which not only detailed exactly where his profits were going (in the area he suspected), but also some major issues in his restaurant regarding orders not being delivered correctly, and an over generous Maitre D' giving away free food and drinks.

With the aid of the tally counters we were able to give a close guide of drinks sold or given away as opposed to what was declared.

He thanked us for our detailed report and later informed us that the staff in the cocktail lounge resigned on the spot after reading our report and the restaurant staff were given a “damn good dressing down”.

Article submitted by Full Member (F1691) Melvyn Rattenbury who operates M.R. Investigations . For further info see his website: or email:

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