Parking Ticket Scams

The precedent was established by older vehicle-related frauds.

You saw the headline and assumed this was a joke, right? Well it  isn’t. You’ve got to give scammers credit for thinking up something  like parking ticket scams and carrying it out.

Parking ticket scams apparently began, as many big dreams do, in New York City.  And if it can make it there, it can make it anywhere.   After all, this is the city where an average of two tourists a week used to buy the Brooklyn Bridge over a century ago.

They already became a big headache in the Big Apple by 2010, but the precedent was established long before by other vehicle-related frauds  predate that.

One veteran rip-off, for example, is the towing scam, which especially targets tourists with out-of-state plates.  You park your car in a lot for a specific amount of time but show up a few minutes late only to discover that it’s not there.  A tow truck moved it a few minutes earlier and you’re now being expected to pay what seems like an exorbitant amount to remove the wheel clamp plus another exorbitant amount for the towing and storage fee.  The law, unbeknownst to you, limits those fees to $62.50 and $125 respectively.  You don’t know that, however, because you’re from out of town, and the unethical tow truck driver knows it.

Parking Ticket Malware

The parking ticket scam is a variation on the theme that uses technology much more advanced than a tow truck hook or chain.  It now  arrives directly in an email ostensibly sent by the New York City  Department of Finance. That sounds ominous, so you open it, but as soon  as you do it uploads malware to your computer.

The malware takes one of two forms.  One version allows the scammers to steal your personal information, including credit card and bank account numbers, for the purposes of committing identity theft.  When your next credit card or bank statement arrives, you’ll find unauthorized charges or withdrawals.  Notify your credit card company or bank immediately.  You will not be held responsible for any unauthorized credit or debit card charges exceeding $50 as long as you notify the bank within 60 days.  Similar limits may apply to unauthorized withdrawals from bank accounts, but those vary according to national regulations and legislation.

A second version of the parking ticket malware locks your computer and prevents you from using it until you pay a ransom.  In that case, you either pay it or buy a new computer, preferably one uploaded with malware protection.

By 2014 parking ticket scams began to appear in Illinois, especially  in the Chicago area, where victims were contacted at first by phone.   But the most brazen permutation was in 2016, when fake meter maids were  caught on surveillance cameras filling out fake $60 parking tickets and  leaving them on window shields.

Parking Ticket Scams in Washington, D.C.

Also in 2016, the parking ticket scam arrived in the nation’s  capital.  In May of that year, the Department of Motor Vehicles of the  District of Columbia warned drivers to be aware of a phishing scam to  collect money from past due parking tickets.  Drivers randomly receive  an email supposedly issued by the “DC Parking Authority” (which doesn’t  exist) that has “Notice of Overdue Parking Violation(s)” in the subject  line.  The email informs them that supposedly have fines that are past  due and, if they don’t pay them immediately, their vehicle will be  impounded.  They are directed to a phony website that enables them to  pay by credit card.

Additional parking scam venues have been reported throughout New Jersey.

International Parking Ticket Scams

Variations of parking ticket scams have also been reported in cities as far apart as Melbourne, Australia and Dryden, in the Canadian province of Ontario and Shanghai, China. In Melbourne, the fake emails are supposedly sent by Global  Parking Solutions and carry the logo of Impark, a Canadian parking  management company. In China, where bills are commonly paid using smartphone apps, fake tickets are printed with a QR code that links to a private account on WeChat Pay, a popular Chinese online payment system. The scam has become so successful that the police will now only issue traffic tickets with QR codes in person directly to the driver.

A variation on the theme involves fake parking attendants posing as traffic enforcement officers. These scammers approach drivers who are parking their cars on the street and inform them that they have to pay some sort of additional fee. The scammer then instructs the driver to pay by swiping a credit card through what looks like a hand-held terminal. But it’s not. It’s really a scanner that reads the victim’s credit card details.   

If you think you’ve been the victim of a parking ticket scam, contact the fund recovery experts at MyChargeBack.

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