7 On Your Side: Motorcyclist has trouble clearing FasTrak violations

Thursday, August 21, 2014
7 On Your Side: Motorcyclist has trouble clearing FasTrak violations
A Bay Area motorcyclist kept getting toll violations that didn?t belong to him because someone doctored their plate to look like his.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Someone has apparently has gone to the extreme to avoid paying bridge tolls. Authorities say a motorcyclist altered the bike's license plate so the number matched somebody else's plate. That other person kept getting accused of toll evasion, so he contacted 7 On Your Side for help.

Rocci Paap showed us the FasTrak violation notices he kept getting. He said, "And then I got another one, and then another one and then another one."

Each one claimed he had crossed the Bay Bridge in the morning on his motorcycle, but never paid the toll.

"I said this isn't me, this is not my license plate, I don't travel this road," Paap said.

The notices did show a snapshot of the license plate as it whizzed through the toll plaza. The number matches Paap's plate exactly -- at least it seems to.

"I looked at it and I said somebody's doctored the license plate. It was obvious to me," Paap said.

Paap showed 7 On Your Side what happened. In the toll violations, a photo of the motorcyclist's license plate shows a numeral eight that looks phony.

"If you look at it, it's not symmetrical like the eight is on the license plate," Paap said.

The figure eight on Paap's plate is evenly shaped. The eight in the FasTrak photo looks un-even, like someone used a sharpie to turn another number into an eight.

"It could be a three, could be a nine, or a zero maybe," Paap said.

Not only that, the tags on Paap's plate expire every April. The tags in the photo expire every March. So they couldn't be the same plate.

Paap kept telling FasTrak somebody was using his number and he was getting all the charges. Tolls and penalties added up to hundreds of dollars.

"This was very frustrating. My wife could tell you, I was about to lose my mind over this," Paap said.

Finally he gave his license plate back to the DMV and got a new one with a new number. He also contacted the CHP which agreed to investigate. An officer sat at the Bay Bridge trying to catch the toll thief in action.

"The highway patrol officer said he wasn't able to help me after he was investigating it. He couldn't locate the person he thought was doing this," Paap said.

Finally, FasTrak agreed the plate did appear to be altered and it dismissed all the charges against Paap, but it didn't end there.

"In March of 2014, it started all over again," Paap said.

Paap suddenly began getting more violation notices. FasTrak even sent him to collections. This time he contacted 7 On Your Side and we contacted FasTrak and officials got on a fast track to fix this.

"Within 24 hours they dismissed all the violations," Paap said.

"Clearly this guy was not the violator and we need to concern ourselves with someone else altogether," said John Goodwin from the Bay Area Toll Authority.

Goodwin said this type of case is rare. This may be the first documented case.

"Deliberately changing one character to another, this is the first instance I've heard of," Goodwin said.

Paap is just relieved. He said, "I wasn't able to get anything done in a year and a half and literally, you guys took care of it in 24 hours."

The Bay Area Toll Authority says if this happens to you, do what Paap did. Dispute every violation by explaining the fraud. FasTrak is supposed to investigate and should dismiss the charges. If they don't, contact 7 On Your Side.