Warning issued after woman scammed by fake QR code in Leicester

The fake QR code
-Credit: (Image: Fylde Council© SWNS)


A woman has fallen victim to a growing QR code scam in Leicester. Motorists nationwide are being affected, with a warning now issued.

Tina Sheppard is the latest in a long line of drivers to be caught out when she attempted to pay for parking in Leicester using a QR code. However, the code that Tina used was fake and instead directed her to fraudulent website for payment, according to Derbyshire Live.

She said: "The code looked totally genuine. I was off to a business event, and, to be honest, my biggest concern was that it was dark and I wanted to get to the hotel where I was dropping my bags off safely."

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The scam involves fraudsters replacing legitimate QR codes on car park payment signs with their own. It has fooled many, with Tina among those duped by the scammers.

She said: "I tried to download the parking app on the car park board and it redirected me to a website instead. It looked totally genuine and after putting my card details into the site it crashed. I actually called my husband to help me remotely and he successfully managed to help me from home. The bank then contacted me to ask if I had genuinely purchased from the site, and thinking there was no issue, I said 'yes'.

"The issue came when I input my details into the website and it timed out (I think), and then I started noticing payments coming out of my account. It started with smaller amounts of £1 and grew to around £80 thereafter. The bank was amazing and I did thankfully get all of the money back."

Some victims have not been as lucky as Tina though and have been conned out of substantial sums. One woman in the north east of England was duped out of £13,000 from the scam.

Now, Castle Donington-based IT firm, True MSP, have issued a warning to all drivers as the scam continues to claim victims. Neil Shaw, the firm's director, said: "This is the latest in a long line of scams targeting different sectors of the community. This time it is motorists who are at risk and it is easy to get duped.

"QR codes are a blessing and a curse. They are a fantastic way of reaching websites, apps or data quickly when used correctly but the user has no way of knowing where they are being directed until they have scanned the code, by which time it is too late. You just can't exercise due diligence as you would with a clear web address."

Mr Shaw has called on drivers to think carefully when around a QR code in a public place. He said: "If you are in an open or public space where the code could have been tampered with, or if you are not 100 per cent sure where the code has come from, be vigilant and please don't click.

"If you're in a password protected site, perhaps your bank, and you've already used your password to enter, then you're pretty safe to click. Unfortunately, outside of a secure site, there is only one thing that the public can do to protect themselves and their hard-earned cash from a QR code scam and that is don't scan the code."

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