Beware of Fake QR Codes on Parking Meters That Steal Your Money

Person scanning QR code

Scammers are targeting unwary people with fake QR codes found on parking meters. The report centers on a couple of cities in Texas (via KXAN).

Fake QR Codes in Texas

The Austin Police Department said Financial Crimes detectives are investigating fake QR codes found on certain parking meters. People trying to pay for parking using one of these codes will have their money sent to a fraudulent vendor. The city says that these codes, which let you scan them using your smartphone’s camera, aren’t used by the local government. The fraudulent domain that opens upon a successful scan is “passportlab.xyz.”

The police department said that 20 stickers have been found so far on these streets in Austin:

  • West Third
  • East and West Fourth
  • East and West Fifth
  • West Sixth
  • West Seventh
  • West Eighth
  • West Ninth
  • Nueces
  • San Jacinto

City workers have checked over 900 parking stations to make sure these QR codes are not found on them. About 29 out of 900 meters have include the fake QR codes. Jason Redfern, parking division manager for the Austin Transportation Department:

We don’t use QR codes at all for this very reason, because they are easy to fake or place on the devices. And we heard from industry leaders that this would be a possibility.

The city was first notified these codes in San Antonio before they spread to Austin. ATD says the only methods of payment accepted directly through cash on the meter or through the Park ATX smartphone app.

Residents can contest any parking ticket received after using these QR codes to have it nullified or voided. Additionally, anyone who believes they were a victim of credit card breach as a result of a recent parking meter payment is asked to file a police report by calling 3-1-1 or going to this website.

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W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

Andrew:

The creativity of the criminal mind never ceases to amaze, even as it empties one’s purse. 

I suspect that it is a safe bet that there will never be a technology that, with enough time, thought and expertise, a sufficiently motivated human cannot exploit. 

geoduck

History has shown that to be true. It’s a rather depressing thought actually. No matter how beautiful how noble how wonderful a human construct may be, there will always be a subset of us tool using apes that try to use it for their own profit.

W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

@geoduck:

That’s because tool-using apes gotta eat, and survival advantage goes to those apes that can expend the least energy to get energy – stealing your neighbour’s food.