Belgian customs officials are reporting twice as much diesel fraud during traffic stops compared to previous years, according to FPS Finance spokesperson Francis Adyns. The spike in fraud is likely due to the soaring cost of fuel across Europe.
Fraudsters are filling up their cars with red diesel, a deliberately dyed low-tax fuel that is intended for use in agricultural equipment, generators, and home heating.
During roadside police stops in 2021, roughly 6.5% of motorists (1,807) checked by police drivers were fined for illegally filling up with the cheap fuel. Drivers caught misusing the red diesel are subject to a €500 fine.
The figure has doubled so far this year, according to FPS Finance. The price of diesel exceeded €2 per litre in March, leading some motorists to find cheaper methods to fuel their cars. The government has also begun to crack down on repeat offenders.
“Last year we integrated previous infractions into the database so that potential repeat offenders can be pulled over with automatic licence plate scanners,” Adyns said.
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In order to crack down on large-scale diesel fraud, customs officials are also now checking with petrol stations in order to put an end to organised schemes.
A recent police investigation put an end to a €420,000 fuel card fraud in Belgium and other European countries. Miscreants used fraudulent fuel cards to fuel up trucks and pay for toll charges.