A woman whose license plate was cloned after advertising her car online said she nearly suffered a nervous breakdown after receiving fines totaling almost Â£ 20,000.
Claire Herron, from Hartlepool, even asked bailiffs to pay after offenses in almost every part of London were wrongly registered against her.
Victims’ organization is now calling for a review of identity theft legislation after it emerged authorities were unable to intervene because, in the eyes of the law, no crime had been committed. committed against it.
Ms Herron had advertised her Mercedes for sale on Gumtree and had no idea the plates had been cloned until speeding fines, congestion charges and the threat of arrest warrants started pouring in in his mailbox.
The first fine was imposed at Easter 2018, for using a tunnel outside London, she recalls.
âThere was a picture of a car that looked like mine with my license plate – except it wasn’t my car and I hadn’t been to London,â she said.
âI immediately contacted Transport for London and was told the problem would be fixed after the holiday, but it didn’t, and that was just the start of a very long nightmare.
âThe fines kept coming in – parking fees, speeding notices and demands from almost every borough council in London.
âOne was from the City of London Police for crossing London Bridge at 3 am, while I was at home in bed in Hartlepool, with my car parked outside my house.
“The car was triggering cameras everywhere and I couldn’t stop it.”
The stress affected his mental health.
Ms Herron said: âI was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and started to panic; that was potentially pretty sinister, what if whoever cloned my plates did something really serious like killing someone in a hit-and-run or something?
âIt really started to have a negative impact on my mental health; I reached a point where physically I could no longer open my message.
The worst was yet to come when bailiffs visited her 80-year-old mother’s store demanding Â£ 1,200.
Ms Herron said: âI told him it was a mistake and to do nothing, that I was on my way.
âWhen I got to the store, those big, beefy bailiffs were there, demanding money.
âI hadn’t told my mom everything because I knew it would stress her out.
âI tried to explain and went to get all the evidence, but by the time I came back my mother had given in to the pressure and given them Â£ 1,200.
“She just couldn’t take it and wanted them to go.”
While using someone else’s identity to steal is a crime, because Ms. Herron suffered no financial loss, technically she was not considered a victim.
She was transferred between the Cleveland and Metro Police Force and it wasn’t until the Victim Care and Advice Service – a charity funded by its Regional Police and Crime Commissioner – that the nightmare was solved.
Dave Mead of the charity said: “Claire got caught up in this automated system, and not being seen as a victim meant she couldn’t be heard at all.”
With the help of the advisory service, the license plate was entered into the automatic recognition system and the car was found shortly after, the bailiffs refunded the money.
Steve Turner, Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner, said: âClaire was caught in a nightmare situation, which she did not provoke and struggled to break free from.