Endesa detected approximately 65,000 cases of electricity fraud in 2018, and was able to recover 601 million stolen kWh; this staggering figure is enough to power Palma de Mallorca for six whole months.
New technologies and a collaboration with the Security Services and ordinary civilians are helping to combat this serious problem. In the space of just one year, citizens’ complaints have helped uncover nearly 4,000 cases of fraud.
Last year, four out of every ten inspections by the company detected an instance of fraud. 48% of these cases were illegal connections to the grid by users without a contract; the rest were other types of fraud, such as double distribution lines or tampering with meters.
These figures apart, it must be remembered that electricity fraud is, above all, a serious problem for people’s health and safety, both for the fraudsters and for those around them. Recent years have seen numerous fires and electric shocks caused by tampering with installations.
Another factor which worsens the problem of fraud is the recent rise in the growing of cannabis. These endeavours are often associated with illegal hookups to the electrical grid, which can cause significant disruption to local power supply. A house used as an indoor marijuana plantation consumes the equivalent of 20 houses, and if multiple such ‘hot houses’ are in a particular area, the grid may become saturated.
Electricity fraud is damaging to society as a whole, as it drives everybody’s electricity bill up. It can jeopardise the quality of other customers’ supply, but also their safety.
In addition, contrary to popular belief, the lion’s share of electricity fraud in Spain is committed by mass consumers – industrial actors, services and businesses, and private households with especially high consumption.
New technologies to combat fraud
Endesa is wholeheartedly embracing digitisation as a part of the business strategy. The application of advanced ‘Machine Learning’ and ‘Deep Learning’ algorithms handling Big Data is making many of the company’s operations a great deal more efficient. Thus, we are redoubling our efforts in applying these algorithms for the purposes of fraud detection, improving the identification of cases of fraud and doing it more efficiently.
In addition to using Big Data, we are employing the new technologies developed in recent years to combat fraud. Amongst others, some notable examples of such new technologies are videoscopes and tracers that can be used to inspect installations that are underground, built into the walls or not accessible in plain sight, to detect double distribution lines, among a range of other manipulations.
In the past year, Endesa has received over 46,600 advisories of possible cases of fraud, through the hotline (800 760 20) and dedicated e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org. Through these channels, civilians can confidentially pass on any relevant information concerning anomalies and suspected fraud. These notifications resulted in over 10,500 inspections, with around 4,000 cases of fraud being detected.
What’s more, Endesa Distribución has made a new website available to the public: https://www.endesadistribucion.es/en/servicios/fraude/denunciar-fraude.html, so that they can report possible cases of fraud. Since its launch in October 2018, the website has received an average of 230 complaints a month.