Motorists warned to beware of parking conmen

Published: Friday, January 18, 2019

People parking their cars are warned that fraudsters pretending to be council parking enforcement officers are conning people out of money.

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Most machines accept contactless

The council’s parking and community safety teams have had several reports that the thieves are stealing people’s cards and PINS and withdrawing cash. One victim had £3000 syphoned out of her bank account following the fraud.

In some cases blue badge holders are told there is a new council policy that means they must register their vehicle at a parking machine. This is completely false. On other occasions a couple who pretend not to be able to speak English ask to use the victim’s card in a parking machine in exchange for money.

Some of the thieves, although not all of them, dress in the manner of a real parking attendant. The couple are described as having a middle-eastern appearance.

The motorist is told to put their card into the machine and enter their PIN in front of the thieves. The thief or thieves then say the card has been ‘swallowed’ and encourage the victim to leave – leaving them in possession of both the card and its PIN. Often the theft happens at a machine located near a bank, so that the scammers can quickly withdraw cash.

The council’s deputy leader Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “Our civil enforcement officers will be keeping a close eye out for these conmen, and we have alerted the local Safer Neighbourhood Teams so that the police can help us track them down.

“In the meantime I would urge everyone to be on their guard. Never enter your PIN into any cash or payment machine in view of anyone else, and be aware that once you have entered your PIN, it is not possible for the machine to ‘swallow’ your card. All our parking machines that accept cards also accept contactless payment, so we would encourage people to pay that way.

If you are concerned you have been conned, contact your bank immediately so that your card can be cancelled.”

Further information on this and other recent scams has been published by Age UK. If you would like to speak to a member of the council’s community safety team, call 020 8871 8895 or email communitysafety@wandsworth.gov.uk.