High school students in Maryland are using speed cameras as a tool to fine innocent drivers in a game, according to the Montgomery County Sentinel newspaper. Because photo enforcement devices will automatically mail out a ticket to any registered vehicle owner based solely on a photograph of a license plate, any driver could receive a ticket if someone else creates a duplicate of his license plate and drives quickly past a speed camera. The private companies that mail out the tickets often do not bother to verify whether vehicle registration information for the accused vehicle matches the photographed vehicle. In the UK, this is known as number plate cloning, where thieves will find the license information of a vehicle similar in appearance to the one they wish to drive. They will use that information to purchase a real license plate from a private vendor using the other vehicle’s numbers. This allows the “cloned” vehicle to avoid all automated punishment systems. According to the Sentinel, two Rockville, Maryland high schools call their version of cloning the “speed camera pimping game.”
A speed camera is located out in front of Wootton High School, providing a convenient location for generating the false tickets. Instead of purchasing license plates, students have ready access to laser printers that can create duplicate license plates using glossy paper using readily available fonts. For example, the state name of “Maryland” appears on plates in a font similar to Garamond Number 5 Swash Italic. Once the camera flashes, the driver can quickly pull over and remove the fake paper plate. The victim will receive a $40 ticket in the mail weeks later. According to the Sentinel, students at Richard Montgomery High School have also participated, although Montgomery County officials deny having seen any evidence of faked speed camera tickets.