Drivers warned about ‘spoof’ parking app scam: Motorist has £230 taken from her bank account after believing she’d paid for a £1-a-day car park
- The driver used what she believed to be a genuine app when she paid to park
- After entering details for the £1-a-day car park £230 was taken from her account
- The local council, which operates the car park in Wales, said drivers need to be extra vigilant that they are using genuine parking apps
- Parking app provider said it is aware of bogus websites impersonating their own
Drivers have been warned to be extra vigilant when using parking apps after a motorists had £230 taken from her bank account after trying to pay for a £1-a-day car park.
The woman fell victim to the scam when she tried to buy a ticket at an old Somerfield car park in Connah’s Quay, Flintshire, Wales, using an application she had downloaded to her smartphone.
Three payments were taken in total by fraudsters under the name of ‘The Happy Hormone’.
The company responsible for the official parking payment app at the car park – PayByPhone – has warned motorists that several bogus websites have been created in an attempt to impersonate theirs and dupe drivers into entering their bank details.
Scam alert: A driver had £230 taken from her back account after using what she thought was a legitimate parking app to pay for this £1-a-day car park in Connah’s Quay, Wales
An investigation was launched after three payments of £1, £59.99 and £170 were taken from the victim’s bank account shortly after trying to pay to park.
The woman, who lives in Manchester, posted about the con on Facebook as a warning to other motorists.
She said she was visiting her home town of Connah’s Quay and decided to stop in the old Somerfield car park, currently earmarked for a new Lidl store.
Motorists can pay 50p to park for four hours or £1 for the whole day at the council-run facility.
She posted: ‘I used the app to pay. I ended up being scammed and £230 coming out of my bank.
‘The first withdrawal was £1, the second was £59.99, and the third was £170.
‘It shows up on your account as the Happy Hormone.
‘They apply for the money from your bank account as “music”.
‘Just be careful everyone. I’d never used an app to park there before, and I won’t be using an app to park anywhere again.’
The user is believed to have been duped by a fraudulent website impersonating PayByPhone, which is the car park’s official payment operator
She swiftly raised the fraudulent activity with her bank, NatWest, which has investigated the complaint but been unable to identify who had taken her money.
They cancelled her cards, passed the case to their specialist fraud department and promised to repay the stolen money into her account.
Regular users of the car park say they’ve never had problems there, which could likely suggest that the victim had been conned by a bogus website.
However, reading about the scam has spooked some motorists who responded to the post on Facebook.
‘Even more reason to not have pay via app at car parks’ posted one person.
‘Keep with cash or, if really needs must, use a card payment option,’ they added.
PayByPhone has urged drivers to ‘be vigilant’ that they are using its genuine website and app and said it is ‘in the process’ of shutting down fraudulent sites impersonating their own
Flintshire Council is investigating whether the woman used the official app advertised at the car park, which is called PayByPhone.
It is operated by Volkswagen Financial Services AG and is used by councils across Britain.
Katie Wilby, Flintshire’s chief officer for Streetscene and Transportation, said: ‘We have been alerted to a potential fraudulent parking app, which we are currently investigating with our official provider, after a report from a customer that she had experienced online banking fraud when trying to pay for parking recently.
‘We wish to warn people to take extra care and be on guard against scammers when paying online for your parking. Please ensure that only the official website and app are used which is https://paybyphone.co.uk/.
‘Any illegal activity identified will be reported to the police.’
PayByPhone has urged drivers to ‘be vigilant’ that they are using its genuine website and app, adding: ‘We’re in the process of shutting these fraudulent sites down.’
Six tips when paying for parking via an app
1. Always carefully check the spelling of websites when searching for a parking app on your phone
2. Do not click on links for password resets, if you have not initiated a reset yourself
3. Never share links or codes for password resets with anyone
4. Don’t disclose information over phone, text, email or other means to agents when you didn’t initiate the request
5. Genuine parking payment apps will never ask you for any personal information unprompted
6. Always keep your devices and apps up to date