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‘NIP farming’ scam exposed

Matt Smith, 48, from Reading, Berks, revealed to The Sun, how he was the victim of ‘NIP farming’, a scam named after the ‘Notice of Intended Prosecution’ letters that drivers receive after getting flashed by a speed camera.

Rather than owning up, unscrupulous motorists are paying hundreds of pounds to crooks who offer to arrange for someone else to ‘take the points’, an investigation conducted by The Sun revealed.

But in reality, the go-betweens often use the cloned identities of blameless victims whose information has been leaked in data breaches and marketed on the dark web.

They offer to take penalty points of speeding drivers by saying “We have people who take the points for you,” and they charge the speeding drivers who want to get rid of the penalty points.  

These fraudsters are offering their services on social media, and The Sun recorded that their reporter was approached within minutes of posting on Facebook.

Tesla driver Matt Smith has twice lost his licence for motoring crimes stretching from London to the East Midlands, and was banned for months amid wrangles with the courts and DVLA – despite being innocent, The Sun reported.

How the nightmare began

Matt Smith said: “The first I knew of them was when I had my licence taken away. It was completely out of the blue.

“They were all in vehicles I’ve never owned, borrowed or rented, and in places that I wasn’t in at the time.”

Matt Smith received a six-month ban last September with a letter from DVLA, claiming “he’d racked up 12 points after failing to attend court hearings for speeding offences in Northampton, Essex and Norfolk.”

Matt Smith quickly got the Norfolk and Essex cases overturned through local magistrates’ courts and briefly had his licence reinstated.

He said: “Essex said it was clearly a case of mistaken identity.

“Norfolk wanted me to attend a hearing but cancelled it three days before saying they’d reviewed the evidence and could see from the speed camera photos that a woman was driving the car. You couldn’t make it up.”

That left the Northampton offence outstanding, which carried six points and a £440 fine for breaking a 50mph speed limit in a Mercedes, The Sun reported.

“I was getting horrible, threatening letters from the fines department saying they were going to set the bailiffs on me, or contact my employers to have the money taken out of my wages,” Matt Smith said.

“I told them it wasn’t me – whoever filled in the form used my name, date of birth and driving licence number, but the signature looked nothing like mine.”

As he pleaded with magistrates to reopen the Northampton case, he received a second ban in December for breaking the speed limit while supposedly driving a Lexus in Highbury, London, The Sun reported.

And while explaining his case in court last month he was told of a fifth offence – also in London – this time driving a BMW.

That one was also quickly overturned after he proved he was working from home, and magistrates in Northampton dismissed their case in January. 

But he remained banned until just two weeks ago when the final outstanding offence was discontinued by Highbury magistrates court. 

“Dealing with these cases took over my life,” he said.

“I’m a business development manager and spend a lot of time on the road for meetings, but I had to tell work I was banned from driving.

“It was absolutely bonkers. The whole thing was incredibly stressful and left me wracked with anxiety.

“The amount of calls, letters and emails – it was like a full time job.”

The crime is on the rise

Cybersecurity expert James Bore told The Sun that criminals obtain driver information through a variety of underhand methods.

“Several car hire companies have suffered cyber-attacks and once details are out and available, they’re easily picked up cheaply,” he said. “The DVLA itself has admitted to hundreds of privacy breaches over the years.

“That’s without going into phishing attacks, or the number of services which need a photo of a government-issued ID for verification, and which may not protect or dispose of that info effectively.”

James Bore commented: “This is another form of fraud and while fraud of all types makes up about 40 per cent of all crime in the UK, funding to combat it makes up just 1 per cent.

“The vast majority of police forces have no specialists at all in the field, meaning investigations are rare and prosecutions rarer still.

“You might expect questions to be asked after half a dozen NIPs naming the same person, but there’s no sign of fraud checks or safeguards in place, nor any strong processes in place for dealing with victims of identity fraud like Matt.”

Motorists face prison for asking someone else to take their speeding points.

The Sun reported that Greater Manchester Police was one of the forces cracking down on NIP farms, along with Lancashire Police.

Last year, Greater Manchester Police busted dozens of drivers who paid an NIP farm to dodge points and fines, according to The Sun’s report. And Lancashire Police prosecuted around 60 drivers over false details given through NIP farms in the same period.

In a statement made to The Sun, DVLA said: “The enforcement of road traffic offences is a matter for the police and court service.

“DVLA’s role is as a record keeper. It is the courts who decide whether to award points to a driver and/or to disqualify them.

“DVLA will then update the record with the information provided by the court.”

(Source: The Sun)

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