Janet seldom drove her car into London, but on this occasion needed to and at some point crossed into the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) and hence would have to make a payment.
Later, a quick Google on her computer gave her the website and she entered her details and paid for the day’s journey into the ULEZ.
That evening, she did think about the payment and that £19.99 seemed a strange figure and she checked online – the correct figure due was £12.50, so why had she been charged £19.99 instead?
She still had the website window open and everything looked correct except for that figure. Checking again – it was clear it was a fraud. Scammers had setup a fake website that mimicked the real one and had bought Google advertising to get their fake website to the top of the Google listing for Ultra Low Emission Zone
Janet reported the fake website to Transport for London who suggested she report it to Action Fraud, which she did, and to her credit card company.
It is possible she will get the payment back from the credit card company but days later a penalty notice for £80 arrived for failure to pay the ULEZ fee. She complained to Transport for London but as far as they are concerned, she hadn’t paid the fee therefore she has to pay the penalty. Janet has appealed against the penalty notice.
An unfortunate mistake by Janet cost her £19.99 paid to scammers but seems it will cost her a further £80.
Sometimes these scams have far worse consequences as the scammers get hold of your confidential information and sell it to other scammers who may take out loans in your name or make other use of your online identity.
Do not trust the top website on a Google search to be the official one – check carefully.
Have you been caught out by this scam – if so, do let me know, by email.