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Police crack down on expressway fake plate scam

Police are cracking down on scammers who offer truck drivers forged local car plates to help them avoid the road toll charged only on out-of-town vehicles using the Shanghai-Nanjing Expressway.

Police said yesterday that they nabbed seven suspects, who were unemployed migrants aged from 16 to 40 years old, in a raid on Tuesday after an undercover investigation that lasted a week.

The plate changers have been operating frequently recently near an entrance ramp to the expressway in Qingpu District.

One of the suspects, surnamed Deng, told police that he joined the business on March 1 and they worked from 7:30am when traffic was getting heavy until after 6pm, police officers said.

The gang charged truck drivers 30 yuan (US$4.39) to 50 yuan to block their front plate with a forged local one.

As well as the toll, non-locally registered vehicles are charged a provincial road tax, which varies with weight but works out to be about 110 yuan for most trucks.

The plate-changers worked in small teams near the expressway's entrance ramps where vehicles slow down before the toll station.

If the driver took the offer, one team member would jump into the driver's cabin while others quickly hung up the fake plate.

Soon after the truck passed the toll gate, the driver would pay his passenger and the others would quickly remove the plate.

Police said the fake plates were made from strawboard and are easy to tell from real ones. But the two female attendants in each booth would not try to stop them because they feared the team of scammers, according to insiders from the highway administration.

Some truck drivers said they accepted the deal for fear the men would steal their cargo if they didn't.

Police officers posed as passengers and drivers at the ramp before swooping on Tuesday.

Police said they need backing from related departments to stop such business in the long run.

Police could not say what the suspects would be charged with but it's likely to be disturbing public order.

One of the suspects was carrying 1,000 yuan, believed to be ill-gotten gains from the business, police said.


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