Dozens of people were arrested Tuesday for a scheme involving counterfeit parking placards that let drivers used to illegally park their cars, officials said.
They allegedly used forged parking placards to park illegally or to dispute previously issued parking tickets.
Parking spaces are a commodity in New York, said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. It's one of the most expensive and challenging places in the world to park a car.
“It came as no surprise to my office and our law enforcement partners that alleged scammers have taken advantage of this industry in an effort to park for free and avoid paying tickets," Vance said.
New York City's Department of Investigation looked into the 30 men and women for months, said department Commissioner Mark Peters.
About half of the forged placards claimed to be from New York City governmental agencies. Others said they were issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross, and the New York Blood Center.
The Department of Investigation is also looking at people who manufacture and sell phony placards
"Often people are selling them for thousands of dollars a piece," Peters said. "If you are using a phony placard, you are committing a crime and we will catch you and we will arrest you."
The suspects face charges including Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument and Criminal Impersonation.
George Esposito, a defense attorney for one of the accused men, told PIX11 News his client would plead not guilty and said placard abuse is "not the crime of the century but merchants get offended by it and persons in NYC get offended by it."