Drivers in Newcastle have been warned not to fall for a payment scam in the city’s car parks.
Newcastle City Council has reported that con artists have been putting up fake QR code signs in car parks to trick drivers into making payments. The local authority said it was aware of three incidents over the past two weeks where drivers had scanned the dodgy codes using their mobile phone and had £60 payments taken.
While the council has begun converting its car parks to a cashless charging system, it does not use QR codes to take payments. The three reports came from drivers using car parks on Dean Street, Morden Street and Blandford Square – but the council said that the QR code signs had been removed by the time their officers had gone to inspect them.
Civic centre bosses said they are monitoring their car parks and CCTV footage and had installed their own warning signs at car park entrances. A spokesperson for Newcastle City Council said: “We are warning people not to use QR codes printed on any signs in our car parks to pay for their parking.
“The codes are not linked to any official payment website and are not used by the city council as a payment method. Unfortunately we have been made aware of a small number of instances where people have tried to use these codes, which has resulted in them being left out of pocket.
“Following each reported incident we have immediately gone to the car park in question to check for and remove any unofficial signage, however on each occasion we have found the signs to have already been removed. We have reported the matter to the police and we will continue to monitor all car parks and CCTV.
“Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of fraud should contact the police.”
The Dean Street, Morden Street and Blandford Square sites all still take cash payments for car parking.
A controversial switch towards cashless payments, using either a bank card or the PayByPhone app, began last month with the Eldon Square and Eldon Garden multi-storeys being converted. There have been concerns that the move will have a “disproportionate impact” on the disabled, older people, those with no or little access to the internet, and low-income households that have greater reliance on physical money.
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