CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

On the road, the attack of the clones

Scam victim: 'You can only imagine what someone is doing in King’s Cross at 3am'

17 January, 2020 — By Tom Foot

The woman’s Red Fiat, in which she hasn’t broken any rules

A NANNY has been inundated with parking tickets after criminals cloned her car.

The woman, who lives in Camden Town but asked not to be named, has been receiving penalty notices for the past three weeks showing images of a Red Fiat 500 – almost identical to hers – breaking traffic laws around London.

The hatchback, which appeared to have the same number plate as hers, had on closer inspection subtle differences including a soft-top back and brake lights casing design.

The penalties she was asked to pay are mainly fines for late-night driving offences including parking on yellow lines, wrongly entering one-way streets and breaching the congestion zone.

“You can only imagine what someone is doing in King’s Cross at 3am,” she told the New Journal. “Not taking their grand­mother out for tea I can tell you… It’s not even the same shade or red Fiat 500. It’s got a soft roof – and the lights are different on the back.”

She added: “It’s quite scary because it is so organised. I’m thinking why me? Why my Fiat? “People are ringing me up saying, it’s not like you to park in Plender Street. I’m saying – that’s not my car. One ticket came from the YMCA car park in Romford. I don’t really know where Romford is.”

Two tickets were for parking on yellow lines in Rochester Square, and another for driving the wrong way down a one-way street – Gillespie Road in Highbury.

Criminals are able to get cloned plates from illegal suppliers that allow them to drive around in similar model cars, without getting picked up by number plate recognition technology used across London and beyond.

The cameras are designed to check plates of cars that have not paid vehicle road tax – and to invoice for crossing toll bridges or the congestion charge and ultra low emission zone.

“The problem I’ve got now is what to do about it,” the woman said. “I can’t sell the car to someone knowing they will just get the same problem – what if it was a little old woman?”

She added: “If I get the number plate changed, that’s going to cost me money. I want the police to catch the other car, but they have not. These days you can’t even walk into a police station and talk to someone face to face –and computers baffle me. It’s got my blood pressure running, it’s like a nightmare.”

The woman said the police had told her number plate scanning technology would automatically pull-up the fake plates scammers and her own vehicle. But she said she had been driving around for three weeks without being stopped.

The Met said: “Once reported to the police, we put a marker on our systems for the reg and then we wait until we get a hit somewhere. The driver should also inform the DVLA regarding all the tickets and they will log this on their system so they are spared from paying those.”

As an issuer of parking tickets, Camden Council suggests anybody facing a similar a problem could contact them for advice

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