Police in Santa Cruz, Ca., arrested a 19-year-old they say made fake parking tickets and put them on parked cars near the beach. The fake tickets had a QR code that victims could scan to "pay" the fraudulent citations. The man put the false citations, which directed potential victims to a website to pay a fine on cars late Wednesday night, said Santa Cruz police, reports CBS News. Damian Vela, of Watsonville, Ca., was charged with unlawful use of a computer system and attempted fraud. Vela denied receiving any payments.
Investigators do not know how many fake tickets the man put on cars or how many victims may have paid the bogus fines. In recent years, police departments around the U.S., including Washington, D.C., Pensacola, Fl., and Jefferson City, Mo., have warned drivers to be wary of scams involving parking tickets. Scams can involve email or text messages as well as the kind of fake tickets on cars that drivers in Santa Cruz found. Christopher Elliott, a consumer advocate and author of "How to be the World's Smartest Traveler," says that technology like handheld printers made parking scams easier and drivers should be vigilant. "There is a certain arbitrariness about parking tickets, and scammers take advantage of that," said Elliott. "You get a ticket on your windshield, and you're likely to just pay it."