A teenage boy is at the center of a scam involving fraudulent traffic violations in Westtown Township, a township in Chester County, Pa.
The scam, first reported yesterday by the Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department, included bogus “Notice of Infraction” letters that were placed inside the mailboxes of four homes. Police told 6ABC Action News that these residents each received a one-page notice informing them that their vehicle had been captured on camera speeding on East Pleasant Grove Road in the nearby borough of West Chester. The notice went on to instruct them to pay a cash fine of $96 by March 26 (just six days after receipt).
Also included in the notice was a photograph of each resident’s vehicle, along with the property owner’s last name and complete mailing address. Investigators have determined that the photographs were taken while vehicles were parked in their respective owners’ driveways.
Earlier this morning, police arrested the 16-year-old after receiving a call from his father, who found evidence that the fraudulent notices had been printed inside the family’s home. The involved parties are cooperating and charges are expected to be filed with the Chester County Juvenile Probation Department.
When similar scams are carried out by email, there are certain clues that people can look for, starting with the sender address. As officers in Regina, Canada pointed out, police and government agencies are not going to use Hotmail accounts. And while you should never click on suspicious links, it is important to note that any secure payment website will start with “https” for your protection.
At first glance, the Westtown Township case may seem less obvious. The alleged mastermind clearly put in some time with convincing details, such as photographed license plates and a likeness of the township seal. The Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department assured residents that it does not send speeding violations that way, nor does it collect cash for such offenses. When in doubt, always call the city’s police department phone number available on the city’s official website—do not call the number on the ticket.
Unfortunately, these types of scams, including counterfeiting of transit tickets, are common practice. With the help of their supply-chain partners, distributors can potentially save the day by working toward secure solutions that deter counterfeit attempts. They should also provide transportation authorities with a way to authenticate a ticket when required.