A north Wales council has warned drivers to take "extra care" after a woman was scammed out of £230 at a town centre car park.
Flintshire Council has launched an investigation after three payments were taken from the woman's bank account, by a fraudster called "The Happy Hormone", after she used a parking app to pay for her ticket.
The council said it is establishing whether she used the official PayByPhone parking payment app advertised at the car park.
'Just be careful everyone'
The woman, who lives in Manchester, was visiting her home town of Connah's Quay and decided to park in the old Somerfield Car Park.
Motorists can pay 50p to park for four hours at the council-run facility, or £1 for the whole day.
Posting a warning on Facebook, she said. "I used the app to pay. I ended up being scammed and £230 coming out of my bank.
"The first withdrawal was £1, the second was £59.99, and the third was £170.
"It shows up on your account as - the happy-hormone. They apply for the money from your bank account as "music"."Just be careful everyone. I'd never used an app to park there before, and I won't be using an app to park anywhere again."The woman's bank, NatWest, investigated her complaint but was unable to identify the outfit that had taken her money.
The bank cancelled her cards, passed the case to its fraud section and promised to repay the stolen money into her account.
Regular users of the car park say they've never had problems there but the scam has spooked some motorists.
"Even more reason to not have pay via app at car parks," one person said.
"Keep with cash or, if really needs must, use a card payment option."
The app, operated by Volkswagen Financial Services AG, is used by councils across Britain.
Katie Wilby, Flintshire's chief officer for Streetscene and transportation, said: "We have been alerted to a potential fraudulent parking app, which we are currently investigating with our official provider, after a report from a customer that she had experienced online banking fraud when trying to pay for parking recently."We wish to warn people to take extra care and be on guard against scammers when paying online for your parking.
"Please ensure that only the official website and app are used which is PayByPhone.
"Any illegal activity identified will be reported to the police."
PayByPhone has warned customers that several bogus websites have been created in an attempt to impersonate its own website.
Urging users to "be vigilant", it added: "We're in the process of shutting these fraudulent sites down."