Three Famous Parking Scams


If necessity is the mother of invention, then desperation might be the mother of devious creativity.  As many people continue to struggle economically, I've been receiving a lot of email about erroneous tickets. This is indicating to me that either the rate of drinking on the job for DPT officers has skyrocketed, or three old school parking scams have reared their heads once again in our fair city and across the nation.   

Scam #1...

The first scam involves parking in a lot, usually in the evening. You circle a few times, can't find any open spots, see a lot with open spaces and decide to cave in and pay the $12. The parking attendant with his bright red jacket greets you with a smile, and is as friendly as can be. He asks how long will you folks be staying, recommends a place for a drink, may even offer you a discount because you look like such a nice group of people. You give him the $12, and are on your merry way. You think, "What a friendly attendant he was. That's why I love this city so much." Everyone is happy. 

What's the scam? Everyone is happy, especially the attendant, because he is not an employee of the parking lot. The lot is closed after hours and he has hired himself to be the after hours attendant. 

How to avoid this scam? Take your time to read the signs at the lot. And if you see a sign that says, "Do not give money to this man," and the person pictured is a dead ringer for the attendant, heed the warning.

Scam #2

This one is a little more elaborate and probably runs the risk of more jail time than does impersonating a parking attendant. Here's how it works. You are walking to your vehicle. From a distance you see that familiar white shape on your windshield. The denial begins, "Maybe I left some papers on my dashboard. Maybe it's a flyer for an event. No way. Is it?....damn it is. A ticket."  You are in such an emotional upheaval at this point, that you make the perfect victim to fall for this scam. You get home. Leave the ticket on the table to slowly get buried by bills and other layers of the denial pile. A couple of weeks after your wounds have healed, you realize that you better pay the ticket or else there will be hefty penalty fees. "I better do it now." So you find the ticket, go to the web address at the bottom and pay it. "Okay, it's over. And I'm never going to get a parking ticket again. I will try harder." 

What's the scam? Anyone? Your ticket was not a real ticket. It was a bogus ticket made by a very crafty bunch of thieves. It looks like an official ticket, it smells like an official ticket, it even easily accepts your $65 online and thanks you like a paid official ticket. But, it isn't. You have just deposited some of your hard earned cash into somebody's offshore bank account, as they sip tequila on the beach.

How can you avoid being a victim of this scam? Easy. The only website where you can pay your citation to the city of San Francisco is at or The official mail-in address for SF parking citations is P.O. Box 7718, San Francisco 94120-7718, the official pay by phone numbers are 415-701-3099 or 800-531-7357, and the official contesting address is 11 South Van Ness. Any other address, website, or phone number is bogus.

Scam #3

You get to your car, see the ticket envelope combo on the windshield, take it off without looking at it, begin cursing under your breath, send a grumpy text to your loved one about their lack of domestic participation or some other small thing, and your previously sunny disposition has become cloudy. You pay the ticket when you get home, then apologize to everyone you were grumpy with earlier. 

What's the scam?  Well, you just paid a fellow driver's ticket for them. What?  How? This one is less elaborate, takes just a little bit of effort, a healthy amount of denial, a dash of projection, and is performed by people with above average anti-authoritarian issues who lack a rational sense of responsibility for their own actions. Here's how it works: Let's say somebody has a blue Toyota. They get a ticket. They take the ticket, drive around for a few blocks until they see your blue Toyota. They put their ticket on the windshield of your car, you pay it, and voila!, you've been scammed. 

How to avoid this scam:  Know your license plate number. If your plate number is not on the ticket, then it is not yours. Most people will receive a notice by mail that they have received a ticket. You will not get this notice because you didn't get a ticket. If you ever have a question about whether or not it was your ticket for your car, call the number on the back of your ticket and check the citation number. Tickets are in the system within a couple of days.

So there you have it.  The ABCs of how to keep your cash in your pocket.  For more parking tips, tricks and secrets, click on

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