Raleigh man billed nearly $500 for toll road he never used, discovers his license plate was duplicated

Diane Wilson Image
Thursday, February 13, 2020
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RALEIGH (WTVD) -- A Raleigh driver says his license plate was used by a scammer, and the same thing can happen to you. If you own a car, your license plate is unique to your vehicle and no one else should have that tag, but Ronnie Dickerson learned the hard way scammers can take advantage of that.

It started when Dickerson started to get toll bills from the state of Virginia.

"I haven't been to Virginia in two years," Dickerson added. He couldn't figure out why he's getting these toll bills from Virginia that total close to $500.

The toll folks sent Dickerson a picture of the vehicle that passed through the toll booths with his license plate number.

The license plate that the Virginia folks captured going through the tolls matched his plate, but the vehicle the plate was attached to was not Dickerson's.

"It looks just like an NC plate, you have the First in Flight, the NC the little particulars are there, but it's a different car. I just couldn't believe it. I was sitting here thinking how did this happen?"

Dickerson has a Chevrolet truck; his license plate is in the middle of his truck. The driver going through the tolls owned a Jeep, with the license plate on the left-hand side.

At first, Dickerson thought the NCDMV gave another person his custom tag which is IREMODEL. We confirmed with the DMV that's not the case, Dickerson is the only one with that tag.

Dickerson said the DMV offered little help figuring out how someone else had his license plate.

RELATED: NCDMV sells your personal information, pockets millions of dollars

"The only thing they would recommend was giving me a letter stating that the tags did not belong to this particular vehicle." Dickerson did dispute the charges with the toll companies in Virginia, and once he provided proof it wasn't his vehicle driving through the tolls, the charges were waived.

Dickerson went online and quickly learned on Amazon and other websites, you can order a custom license plate.

"I can choose any tag, any state, put anybody's number in it I know, or want to, and they'll ship that tag to me. It's scary, yea it's really scary."

ABC11 confirmed exactly what Dickerson said as Troubleshooter Diane Wilson went on Amazon and found several custom license plate sellers. She picked one, customized it to Dickerson's tag and within a week she got a license plate in the mail that matches Dickerson's license plate.

While there are some differences you can notice close up--like the numbers are flat and not raised--from a distance you would never know the difference.

"This is just ridiculous. It's a headache," Dickerson said.

NCDMV told Troubleshooter Diane Wilson it can only take enforcement if it can identify the person using the illegal plate. Until then Dickerson's frustrations continue, but he's speaking out hoping action can be taken somehow.

"I want to make sure this doesn't happen again to anybody else. That they can be aware that you can go on a website and order a plate. Even though it's not the actual plate, it can actually come back to you," he said.

Wilson tried to find an agency to investigate this issue. NCDMV referred her to the State Attorney General, but since the crime is happening in Virginia, they referred me to the US Attorney General. The NCDMV said the best option if something like this happens to you is to turn in that personalized tag being duplicated and getting a license plate number.

Dickerson said he really doesn't want to do that. Sadly, he just got new bills from Virginia as this scammer continues to cause trouble.