Recently we were on the receiving end of an attempted hustle by some fake wheel clampers. They’d immobilised one of our vans and were refusing to take the clamp off unless we paid £300 cash there and then. No credit cards allowed because of “possible fraud”. That set our own fraud alarm bells ringing and, after some investigation, we called the police who agreed to come down. When our hustlers heard the police were coming, they rapidly removed the clamp from our wheel, jumped in their car and sped off.
And what kind of car did our scammers jump into to make good their escape? Only a Jaguar X-type! Clearly the scam pays well, or perhaps they often need to leave the scene of the crime in a hurry! Unfortunately for them, their getaway wasn’t quick enough to prevent us taking down their vehicle registration number and passing it on to the police.
So, if any of you ever have a similar situation, here are our top tips to avoiding being scammed by fake clampers:
- The code of practice relating to clamping says:
- Maximum standard charge: £75 (maximum charge if unpaid £150). Parking company’s name, address and phone number must be displayed in car park and on ticket. So our £300 is way over this £75 figure.
- Unfortunately, if your car is parked on private property, like ours was, clampers can still charge you whatever they like to remove the clamp. If you believe you have been overcharged, you have to make claim in a civil court as breaking this part of the code of practice is not a criminal offence. Obviously, if the clampers are not legitimate and working for a real company, then you’ll have no one to take a claim out against!
- Parking rules must be clearly displayed. Here is the very poor effort on the wall of the car park where we parked – it looks as though it had been stuck up that same day. Note it’s missing the company’s address, which the code requires to be shown.
- The phone number must connect with a person, not an automated payments system. The number given on the rules went through to a voicemail, with no indication of company.
- Staff to wear uniform and carry ID. They must not escort drivers to cash machines.
- TOP TIP: All clampers must be licensed by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). Any unlicensed clamper is committing a criminal offence and the police would arrest any such individual.
Having gone through the above list getting increasingly suspicious but with our con artists sticking resolutely to their guns and demanding £300, we finally rumbled them on the ID point. Only one of our clampers had any ID (pictured above) but when we checked it (by calling the SIA on 0844 892 1025 and on the SIA’s website) we found this was not a genuine SIA number and therefore that this was definitely a scam.
At this stage we called the police for the second time and they were happy to come down now that we’d established that the clampers were acting illegally. By this time our rogues had started to lose their nerve and said they would accept £150 instead of £300 (which then dropped 5 minutes later to £100), as “the tow truck has broken down so we can’t tow you”. We declined their kind offer saying we’d prefer to discuss it with the police officers who were on their way down from the local station.
Funnily enough, 2 minutes later our “clampers” decided they didn’t want a nice chat with a police officer and made good their escape!
With thanks to www.penaltycharges.co.uk, which was where we found the code and which helped save us £300!