Cops in Santa Cruz, California, were out in full force, arresting a 19-year-old they allege was behind a sinister plot to swindle unsuspecting beachgoers out of their hard-earned cash. The suspect, Damian Vela of Watsonville, had been placing counterfeit parking tickets on vehicles near the shoreline, complete with a QR code that victims could scan to pay the bogus fines.
When the fuzz confronted Vela on Thursday, he denied having received any payments, but it’s unclear how many fake tickets he had placed or how many victims had been duped.
This isn’t the first time police departments have warned drivers to be on the lookout for parking ticket scams. From Washington, D.C. to Pensacola, Florida, and Jefferson City, Missouri, it’s a crime that’s been popping up all over the country.
Spotting a fake ticket (not an exhaustive list)
- Check the ticket for spelling and grammar errors. Fake parking tickets often contain typos or incorrect grammar.
- Look for an official seal or logo. Most legitimate parking tickets will have an official seal or logo from the issuing agency.
- Check the ticket for a valid date. Fake parking tickets often have incorrect dates or no date at all.
- Verify the ticket number. Legitimate parking tickets will have a unique ticket number that can be verified with the issuing agency.
- Look for a signature. Most legitimate parking tickets will have a signature from the issuing officer.