Warning for drivers in France as car number plate fraud on rise 

We look at what to do if you become a victim

French carte grise vehicle identification paper with car in background
Criminals purchase number plates online without having the valid carte grise identification papers
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Tens of thousands of drivers in France each year learn that their vehicles were caught speeding or parking in places they could not possibly have been due ‘number plate fraud’. We look at how this works and what to do if you are a victim.

Number plate fraud is on the rise in France. In 2010 there were 13,574 reported cases, which by 2022 had risen to more than 22,000.

In a recent case, a woman in the south-west was fined a total of €6,400 for parking violations and speeding in Paris, despite never having been there.

Sylvie Lavaud from Malaville, Charente, has received a total of 64 fines since 2022, the majority of which are for violations in the Paris’ 18th arrondissement.

“I have been challenging them but the administration isn’t accepting it,” she told TF1. “They keep asking for more proof, saying I need to do this and do that.”

Gangsters, petty criminals and delinquents clearly see a value in using someone else’s number plate and being able to park wherever they please or to speed with relative impunity.

This is largely due to the fact that anyone can buy a number plate online without having to prove they have a legal right to it.

Indeed, the value criminals see in driving with impunity is enough for many to risk the seven year prison sentence, six points on their driving licence, vehicle confiscation and €30,000 fine.

By definition, it is a problem that is difficult to detect. Nonetheless, there are plans - led by MoDem MP Luc Geismar - to introduce a law to restrict the purchase of number plates online. However it seems unlikely that legislation could prevent criminals from buying number plates from abroad 

What to do if you are a victim of vehicle identity theft?

You have 45 days from receipt of a fine to challenge it - hence the importance of keeping your home address up-to-date on the carte grise registration document.

If you receive a fine that you believe is not justified, do not pay it. If you pay the fine, the matter will be considered closed.

To challenge a fine, you should ask for the photo of the vehicle associated with it. You can do this here.

If the photo confirms your belief that the fine is unjustified, you should then challenge it here.

You should then press charges for number plate fraud. You do not have to know who is responsible for this, the photographic evidence along with proof that you were elsewhere should suffice (witness testimony, telephone records, etc).

You can press charges for number plate fraud here. Once you have filled in the online form, you will be contacted by your local gendarmerie or Police nationale.