Motorists are being warned of new reports of thieves targeting people at pay and display parking machines.
The Council’s parking and community safety teams have received reports of criminals distracting people using the machines and stealing their bank cards.
Sometimes the thieves pretend to be confused by parking signs and approach their victims to ask for advice. Having watched and waited until the victim has entered their PIN number, they distract them and retrieve their bank card from the machine.
And in a more sophisticated and brazen version of this scam, there have also been reports of thieves masquerading as parking attendants, complete with fake ID cards, who tell their victims their vehicle has been photographed and they will be fined if they don’t quickly visit a machine to buy a parking voucher. Again, they steal the card while the victim is confused or distracted.
In both cases the victim is told the machine has swallowed their card and that someone from the Council will arrive shortly to retrieve it for them.
Meanwhile the scammers head for the nearest cashpoint to steal their money.
Cllr Alexander Ehmann, Chair of the Transport and Air Quality Committee for Richmond Council, said:
“Our Civil Enforcement officers will be keeping a close eye out for these con artists and will be working closely with local police Safer Neighbourhoods Teams to track them down.
“Until they are caught, I would urge people to be on their guard against this kind of scam.
“Never enter your PIN number into any cash or payment machine in view of anyone else and please be aware that our parking machines cannot and will not ‘swallow’ bank cards. All our parking machines accept contactless payment and we would encourage people to pay that way.
“If you are have any concerns at all that you might have been conned, contact your bank immediately so your card can be cancelled.”
– from a Richmond Council press release - 10 November 2020