Facepalm: Never underestimate the deviousness of a scammer. The number of ways unscrupulous types can steal money from people, especially the less tech-savvy, is mind-boggling. A recently discovered scheme in several US cities involves placing QR stickers on parking meters that direct users to fake sites, which then collect payment details from victims.
Edge reports that law enforcement agencies in Austin and San Antonio have issued warnings during the holiday period following the discovery of several QR code stickers on parking meters. Click2Houston published a screenshot of the site “Fast payment for parking”, to which the codes lead.
While many people will likely recognize a suspicious website URL and its very simple design as warning flags, it is likely that a scammer tricked at least a few people into submitting their details. The QR sticker itself also looks very out of place on the counter.
🚨 Fraud alert🚨
APD Financial Crime Detectives are investigating after fraudulent QR-code stickers were found on Austin public parking meters. People trying to pay for parking using these QR codes could have been redirected to a fraudulent website and made a payment. pic.twitter.com/Gb8gytCYn7
– Austin Police Department (@Austin_Police) January 3, 2022
The authorities are advising anyone who may have entered their details on a fraudulent website to file a police report and contact their card provider to cancel any payments. It is noted that the City of Houston does not use QR codes on its parking meters and does not accept payments using this method.
For those who don’t use traditional coins, bills or credit cards, the safest way to pay for parking is through official apps downloaded from Google Play or the Apple App Store.
Quick Response (QR) codes have been around since 1994 and were first developed for high-speed scanning of components when tracking vehicles during production. Using them for malicious purposes is not new; they have long been popular as a way to distribute malware.