Florida Highway Patrol warns of traffic citation scam

Posted at 11:34 AM, Dec 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-21 16:43:30-05

Here's a warning that applies to everyone with an email account.

A new scam involves a bogus email saying you're in trouble with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The emails states that you received a red light traffic ticket and need to pay up.

"We see a lot of scams happening," said Sgt. Ray Wigfall of Florida Highway Patrol. "The Department of Highway Safety and the clerks of court would never send you a citation via email."

The scammers tell you the intersection where you supposedly ran the red light.

It even goes as far as using the exact logo of the official Florida department.

"This company is essentially trying to represent DHSMC but clearly has no affiliation whatsoever," warns Wigfall. "The email also says if you refuse to pay, they will implement daily late charges up to $50 per day."

That might frighten people into paying the scammers, according to the Better Business Bureau of South Florida & the Caribbean.

"People are going be scared to ignore something like that," said Michele Mason, senior vice president of the local BBB office in West Palm Beach.

Her office can barely keep up these types of scammers right now.

"We see email scams all year round but especially during the holiday season when people are extremely busy," said Mason.

DHSMV started noticing the scam making the rounds late last week. Victims from Peru and Germany – who traveled to South Florida recently – received the emails and reached out to the department. Officials say they are unsure how many emails have been sent out or how many people have fallen for the scam.

If you get the email, do not click the phony payment link inside.

"Many of these are designed to get you to download viruses or spyware on your computer," said Mason.

And when in doubt, just pick up the phone.

"Do your homework. Call the clerk of court. Call DHSMV," he said.

Please keep the following in mind:

- The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and county Clerks of Court do not send citations via email or require payments of citations via email.

- Traffic ticket numbers are made of seven-digit numbers. The fake citation numbers are only made up of six digits.

- If you have received a bogus email claiming to be DHSMV, please contact the department by calling (850) 617-2000 or messaging them on their Facebook page.