Grand Scams and Traffic Jams

            Have you ever gotten a parking or speeding ticket? Of course you have.

            I once got a ticket from a town I had never been to. Luckily, I could prove where I was at the time of the violation. A photographer from the local newspaper was taking my family’s photo for a “Family of the Week” feature. The town verified with the paper that I was not a scammer … they were! The ticket was waved. Their traffic clerk apparently had been randomly picking license plate numbers and sending tickets to the owners.

            A woman in Cleveland, Ohio, was not so lucky. She got a nice Christmas gift in the mail last December. She received a $105 dollar ticket accusing her of speeding. The thing is she wasn’t driving at the time. When the violation occurred, her car was on the back of a tow truck!

            The tow-truck driver, who picked up the car after a breakdown a few weeks earlier, thought he’d beat a traffic light. Her license plate was caught on a traffic camera, and well, you know the rest.

            A major hassle resulted. She appealed to the tow company to no avail. She appealed to the police suggesting the driver of the truck should get the ticket. The police, dedicated to protecting and servicing the public, said she had to take it to the company that operates the cameras. She appealed to the camera company who operates the spy in the sky. No luck. She appealed to the City Council, which said the camera was supposed to have been removed “some time ago.”

            There is no record of whether she appealed to Santa Claus.

            Can a car be towed without your permission? Of course it can. Let me count the ways. It can be towed if it is abandoned. It can be towed if it is parked illegally in a marked “No Parking” zone, or in an unmarked no-parking area like on a sidewalk, or if it is on private property. What if you are sitting in the car in traffic and the tow truck in front of you tries to tow your car away?

            Apparently so! A couple was stopped in traffic behind a tow truck when suddenly the driver of the truck started backing up. The couple tooted their horn. The truck kept coming. The couple tried to back up. The truck kept on backing up.

            Passersby yelled at the truck driver. The couple yelled at the driver. The truck driver kept backing up, making several attempts to slide his tow bar under the couple’s 2017 Toyota Corolla. Thankfully, the traffic began to move, allowing the Corolla to squeeze around the tow truck and drive away, the tow truck in hot pursuit. Finally, the couple was able to lose the truck. Whew, close call.

            It seems the tow company had been banned from towing in the city, yet they continued to tow cars, usually unoccupied, and billing the unsuspecting suckers a $155 charge. They weren’t limiting their scam to California. The same company allegedly also pulled the scam in Virginia, resulting in the state passing a law requiring tow companies to get permission before towing a vehicle. (From whom, the car owner?) The company’s spokesperson said, “We never tow a wrong car.” Ya, right!

            And there was the poor person who found their dream car for sale in Pennsylvania on Facebook. It had a clear title, enough to get a bank loan for the $25,000 price tag. A check changed hands and for over a year the person enjoyed their new Porsche, until one day it was towed away. The police said it had been repossessed, but not by the bank since all payments had been made on time. According to a TV report, the original owner purchased the car and financed it through an online sales company, failed to pay for it, then resold it, keeping the 25 grand. A grand scam indeed.

            What is it they say? Buyer beware. Ya, that’s the ticket

            Mattapoisett resident Dick Morgado is an artist and happily retired writer. His newspaper columns appeared for many years in daily newspapers around Boston.

Thoughts on…

By Dick Morgado

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