TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Warning About Fake "Tickets" From Red Light Cameras

Warning About Fake "Tickets" From Red Light Cameras

Marcus Didius Falco (
Wed, 02 Feb 2005 23:25:50 -0500

------ Forwarded Message
From: Declan McCullagh < >
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2005 23:58:37 -0500
To: <politech@ >
Subject: [Politech] Warning about fake "tickets" from red light cameras

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Red light cameras - fake tickets
Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2005 17:28:39 -0800
From: editor <editor@ >
Reply-To: editor@
To: declan@

For Declan -

I do a site about red light camera tickets. Back in 2002 you had a
thread about the cameras, so I figured you might be interested in a
little update for politechbot.

There's been a number of prominent newspaper articles recently, but
when the commercial media discuss the cameras, there's a couple issues
they always leave out.

Issue # 1. At least nine cities in California are sending out fake
red light camera tickets, to get you to identify the driver, so that
they can send the driver a real ticket. It's a great con game - most
people, not having heard anything about it in the press, fall for
it. And, while the fake tickets are fully bilingual, I think that
those not as familiar with American courts (and such things as the 5th
Amendment) are much more likely to be fooled.

I have a section on my website about the fake tickets, in case you
need additional info. The url is and the
fake ticket info, including some sample fake tickets, is under "Police
Going Too Far...."

This is some of the info from the website -

"If your "ticket" does not have the address and phone number of the
court on it, or if it says, "Do not contact the court," it's not really
a ticket at all. It's a fake, probably generated by the police (fake
ticket examples: El Cajon
<>, Vista
<>), but it
could have been printed up by a clever confidence man who hopes you will
give him your credit card number. (For more about con men, see the end
of this section.)
The official format for a real ticket
<> is on the
website of the Judicial Council of California.

"This section is about police trickery and bluffing !

"In some towns the police are going to extraordinary lengths to get
registered owners, or members of their household, to identify the
driver. In those towns, if the technicians reviewing the photos see
that the pictured driver is obviously not the registered owner (gender
mismatch, or great difference in age) or that the photo is too blurry
to be sure of who it is, one tactic they frequently use is to send the
registered owner an official-looking notice telling him that he must
identify the driver, within 10 days. (In the business, they call
these notices a "nomination.")

"Why do they do it?

"So far, the common thread is that all these "Police Going Too Far..."
cities use RedFlex as their camera vendor and have contracts (signed
before 2004) requiring them to pay RedFlex approx. $90 for each real
ticket issued. These cities send the registered owner a notice (fake
ticket) -- which the City doesn't have to pay RedFlex for - when they
see that the face photo is of such poor quality that it would probably
not be accepted by a judge as proof of who the driver was. Sending
you the fake ticket is the police's attempt to get you to identify the
driver, thus providing them that proof. Once you have filled-out the
blanks on the fake ticket form, the police can be pretty sure that a
ticket will stick and that they will be able to recoup the $90 it will
cost them to have a real one issued. So they go ahead and have
RedFlex issue (print up and mail) one."

Issue # 2. There's a big incentive for the cities, and the camera
companies, to set the yellows very short. Here in California our
legislature passed a law, 3 years ago, setting a minimum yellow for
_straight-through_ traffic. While the mandated straight-through
minimums are on the short side, nonetheless it has caused the
lucrative enforcement to shift to left turns, for which the minimum
yellow is just 3.0 seconds. And right turns. But there's no evidence
that people turning left or right cause the horrible accidents that
the authorities say they want to prevent (see the analyses I did of
several heavily-enforced intersections - under Hawthorne Documents Set
#3, Culver City Documents Set # 12, and Costa Mesa Documents Set #10).
But, if we nonetheless accept that it's a reasonable goal to decrease
left-turn runners, there's an alternative to heavy ticketing. If you
will look at the Mesa, Arizona Ticket Counts table (see Mesa, Arizona
on the Camera Towns page of my website), you'll see that left turn
violations go way down, and stay down, when drivers are given a
reasonable amount of yellow. And for straight through movements, the
Ticket Counts table on the Costa Mesa (California) Documents page
shows that just a few tenths of a second longer yellow makes a
significant decrease in the number of tickets.

I hope you find this of interest.


editor <at> highwayrobbery . net . no . spam
I slightly munged this address to foil spammers-

Politech mailing list
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