In a recent communication from PCSO Lee O’Brien of the Pinner Safer Neighbourhood Team, an incident was reported involving a Pinner resident and blue badge holder who narrowly escaped a parking scam at Sainsbury’s car park.
According to the post, the resident was approached by a scammer who falsely claimed she would be fined £150 if she failed to register her vehicle’s registration. The imposter then escorted her to a parking machine and instructed her to insert a bankcard. Fortunately, the resident discerned the scammer’s intentions and did not comply with the instructions.
PCSO O’Brien stated: “Scammers will often target and approach elderly motorists and convince them they must pay for parking or a fine by inserting a credit/debit card into a parking machine, some of which have a card-sized slot.”
The statement further details how scammers employ distraction techniques or sleight of hand to remove the card after the motorist enters their PIN on the alphanumeric keypad. The scammers then inform the victim that the machine has retained the card, which is subsequently used for unauthorised contactless payments and cash withdrawals from ATMs.
To make it more convincing, one of the scammers involved in this incident was reportedly wearing a camera to create the appearance of a genuine parking enforcement officer.
PCSO Lee O’Brien stressed the importance of caution, reminding residents that genuine parking enforcement officers will never ask for immediate payment of fines on the street. The post also highlighted that Harrow Council parking machines only accept coins or payments made through authorised channels like paybyphone (www.paybyphone.co.uk) and their smartphone app.
In the event of falling victim to such scams, PCSO O’Brien advises residents to cancel any stolen cards at the earliest opportunity, emphasising the importance of having the card issuer’s phone number, found on the reverse of the card, saved in their mobile phone’s contact list.
For those on Facebook, you can join the Official Harrow Online Crimewatch Group by clicking here.