Scam alert: Thieves are targeting drivers by claiming parking machines swallowed their bank cards before making off with cards belonging to sympathetic motorists and ‘stealing thousands of pounds in minutes’
- Richmond Council has reported a rise in cases in recent weeks in Kew, Twickenham and Teddington
- It says some cases have seen criminals steal thousands of pounds in minutes
- UK Finance originally raised cases of the ‘low-tech’ scam in October 2019
- It is impossible for parking payment machines to swallow cards, say councils
- Motorists should also be aware of fraudsters impersonating car park attendants
Motorists are being warned about a wave of new ‘low-tech’ bank card thefts that are taking place in car parks around London, which has seen drivers lose thousands of pounds in a matter of minutes.
The scam, which was first raised by This is Money over a year ago, has already claimed a number of victims in Richmond, according to local police who claim to be investigating a number of repeat offences.
Criminals are impersonating needy members of the public who claim the parking machines have swallowed their bank cards when trying to make a payment, before making off with debit and credit cards belonging to unaware motorists when they try to pay.
Scam alert: Drivers are being warned to be extra vigilant at car parking machines after Richmond Council said it had seen a rise in cases of thefts of bank cards by criminal who have successfully made off with thousands of pounds
In some cases, criminals impersonate car park attendants and tell victims they face a fine and frogmarch them to a card machine.
The victim is distracted while inserting their card – before it is stolen, according to UK Finance.
But the more common scenario is that victims are duped by criminals who claim to have forgotten their cards or a machine has swallowed their – then offer cash in exchange for borrowing a card from an unwitting motorist who also intends to use the card-payment-only machines.
Drivers are being warned not to fall for the relatively rudimentary tactic, with officials explaining that it is impossible for the machines to ‘swallow’ bank cards during payment.
Richmond Council said it has received several reports of the scam being used in the last few weeks at locations in Kew, Twickenham and Teddington.
Both Richmond Council and Richmond Police have shared details of the scam to warn motorists paying for parking in the area
It said scammers have successfully stolen thousands of pounds in only a few minutes of getting away with a driver’s bank card.
In a release from the council, it said: ‘Motorists are reminded that it impossible for a parking meter machine to swallow bank cards as Pay and Display machines are manufactured so that cards can only be inserted part of the way.
‘If your card disappears, you have been victim of fraud and should contact your bank immediately.
‘If anyone approaches you when you go to pay for parking please be cautious and never insert your card into a parking machine when someone you do not know is present.’
It is impossible for payment machines in car parks to swallow a bank card, so motorists are warned to no fall foul of the false claims made by criminals preying on unwitting drivers
Councillor Alexander Ehmann, who is also chair of the Transport and Air Quality Committee for Richmond Council, added: ‘Until the criminals are caught please take extra care to be on guard against scammers and tell your friends and family, who might not have seen this warning message, to be careful too.
‘We will be working with local police Safer Neighbourhoods Teams to put a stop to these crimes.
‘In the meantime, please try to use contactless payments or cash at parking machines or use RingGo. If you think you might have fallen victim to this scam, contact your bank immediately to cancel your bank card.’
DVLA’s five top tips to spot if a text or email is phony
1. Never share driving licence images and vehicle documents online
2. Never share bank details or personal data online
3. Avoid websites offering to connect to DVLA’s contact centre
4. Only use GOV.UK when looking for DVLA contact details
5. Immediately report it to the police via Action Fraud if you think you have been the victim of a scam
UK Finance has also urged people to be wary of anyone who makes an approach at a card machine, be it for paying for parking or when using a cashpoint.
The Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) has recently warned drivers to remain extra vigilant of fradulent texts and emails impersonating the government agency.
It said it had seen a 603 per cent jump in scam activity in the last 12 months and warned drivers to be alert to the deceitful tricksters behind the false communication, which commonly ask drivers to verify their driving licence details, offer vehicle tax refunds, or highlight a failed vehicle tax payment and ask for bank details.
It outlined five steps for how to identify if you’re being singled-out by con artists and what you need to do about it.
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