Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


At the tail end of the car series…

fake license plate.jpg

Originating from Wootton High School, the parent said, students duplic ate the license plates by printing plate numbers on glossy photo paper, using fonts from certain websites that “mimic” those on Maryland license plates. They tape the duplicate plate over the existing plate on the back of their car and purposefully speed through a speed camera, the parent said. The victim then receives a citation in the mail days later. (“Local teens claim pranks on county’s Speed Cams,” [link to no longer works] Montgomery (Maryland) County Sentinel)

Eric Rescorla makes some inferences [link to no longer works] about what happens when you try this:

However, if people are actually getting tickets when you do this, then this reveals some pretty lame procedures by whoever’s running the photo radar system, since presumably the photo of the driver doesn’t match whatever the driver’s license photo of the person you’re issuing the ticket to, and of course the car model probably doesn’t match either.

My educated guess would be it’s easier to bill people and see who argues than check every license plate.

PS: Fonts from certain websites? Try Googling license plate image generator, which is where I found ImageChef to make the image shown. this site [link to no longer works] has a nicer collection of templates.

PS: Sorry, Eric, couldn’t resist!

2 comments on "At the tail end of the car series…"

  • Chris says:

    I read at another high-quality blog that in Merry Old England those zany kids find a car which looks like theirs and use *its* licence number. Not sure how they work the “look like the other car’s owner” angle, or if it matters.
    I cleverly foil this plan by driving a Honda Civic.

  • Brons says:

    The original story notes that the more sophisticated pranksters borrow a car of the appropriate make and color to match the victim’s in order to do a better frame job.
    Eric’s blog contains a comment from a Maryland resident who has gotten legit tickets from these cameras who says that the letter you get explains that the owner of the car is responsible for its misuse regardless of who is operating it, so matching the driver doesn’t matter, though if the driver is recognizable a picture of them might be problematic.
    The original article ends with the president of the local county council saying that he is glad the scheme was caught “before it became wide spread”. That story has of course been slashdotted and the scheme is now known to hundreds of thousands if not millions of potential pranksters, so his relief may be misplaced.

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