Parking app Just Park has been forced to issue an apology to homeowners who have fallen victims to a new scam where fraudsters rent out their driveways and pocket the cash from people who park on their drive without knowing.
The website allows property owners and businesses to rent vacant parking spots to other drivers, but it appears that people who don’t own the car park space or driveway can fraudulently claim to be the owner and rent it out too.
Some owners have returned to their homes to find vehicles parked in their allocated spaces and driveways. The rules around drivers being parked on private land is a gray area, as such it is not technically illegal to park on private land without the owner’s permission, although new legislation may come into force soon to tackle this.
BBC Radio 4 You and Yours show highlighted the scam in their report last weekend.
Just Park is one of a few services that allows people to make money from their unused parking spaces or driveways, which is becoming a nice way to earn income for many homeowners.
These are often near train stations, sporting stadiums and other entertainment venues, a parking space in a high demand area can attract earnings in excess of £1,000 a year.
Some drivers have discovered that their parking facilities have been advertised on the site without their permission.
Just Park said that cases of this are ‘extremely rare’, though the BBC show spoke to numerous victims of the scam.
Simon Gallagher told the BBC that strangers were parking in bays allocated to owners of flats in his building in Bexleyheath in Greater London.
‘This was going on for about a month or so… until one day somebody had left a note in the window of one of the cars that was parked there with a booking reference for Just Park,’ he said.
‘I looked it up on the website and to my surprise, found a photograph of the flat advertised out for rent’.
Incredibly, scam artists had been charging a £8 daily fee to use the spaces allocated to tenants in the building, and were pocketing the income from the venture without the rightful owner’s – or Just Park’s – knowledge.
Some owners of the parking spaces have now had to install bollards to prevent unsuspecting drivers from using their allocated bays.
[Image source: Shutterstock, November 2020]
The BBC report that homeowners in Edinburgh were also victims of the same scam.
Barbara Oliver, who lives in Edinburgh, came back from holiday to discover that drivers had been parking their cars in front of her garage door.
‘It appeared that these people had used Just Park and had information to say that they could park there, which, as the property’s owner, I knew was not true’, Barbara told the BBC.
Just Park removed the adverts and says it will do the same with immediate effect if other fraudulent activity is identified.
The company’s founder and chief executive officer, Anthony Eskinazi, apologised to both Mr Gallagher and Mrs Oliver for the fraudulent activity carried out on its website.
‘We do have stringent checks in place to prevent spaces from being listed fraudulently. On rare occasions where they are added, we immediately remove them once notified and ensure that our community is not adversely affected.’
Have you been a victim of a similar scam and do you think parking apps should check who they allow to promote their driveways more? Let us know in the comments.