Colorado investigates scalping of DMV appointment times

Scalpers are reportedly taking advantage of scarce appointment times available for Colorado's new driver's license program for immigrants who lack legal immigration status, according to the state attorney general. 9NEWS at 4 p.m. 01/07/16.

KUSA - Scalpers are reportedly taking advantage of scarce appointment times available for Colorado's new driver's license program for immigrants who lack legal immigration status, according to the state attorney general.

The attorney general announced that scammers were snatching up free appointments via the Department of Motor Vehicle's online reservation system and illegally selling them for a profit.

One woman told 9NEWS she came very close to paying for an appointment.  She declined to give her name because she is in the United States illegally. 

"I need [a driver's license] so bad for my family," she said.   The  woman told 9News she had a difficult time getting an appointment over the  phone and electronically, and was intrigued when she saw an advertisement on Facebook for a spot in line. 

"I thought, 'This is my only option,'" she said.  Once  the person asked her for $200 to secure the appointment, she realized it was a scam and didn't pay. 

"I said, 'Oh, this is not right.'"  she said. 

"Our office received information from the DMV that a number of people were hoarding appointment times and then selling those appointments at prices that range from $50 to as high as $1000," Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said in a press release.

The online reservation system used by the DMV does not allow appointments to be transferred to another person's name, but in a test of the system 9NEWS discovered a method that could be vulnerable to scalpers.

"The DMV has taken steps such as staggering appointment release times and adding a security 'captcha' feature to the appointment scheduler," DMV spokeswoman Sarah Werner told 9NEWS via email.

While the captcha feature may prevent so-called "bots" from using the system, 9NEWS found that it was easy for a live person to re-book a time slot under a different name.

We tested the same system by making an appointment for a regular driver's license and then canceled it.

It did take several minutes for our appointment slot to be canceled. However, the time slot was released to be booked again by the public at the same moment an email arrived to confirm the cancellation, making it possible to quickly re-book the appointment under another name.

9NEWS has followed up with the DMV about its plans for the protecting the system from scalpers.

While the attorney general encouraged immigrants applying for licenses to book a free appointment online, 9NEWS found that no appointment times were available through the DMV website as of Thursday morning.

Only three DMV offices in the state accept appointments, and the reservation system currently lists availability through the month of April.

The DMV says immigrants without legal status in the country can also call them for an appointment at 303-205-2335.

The scarcity of appointments has roots in a political battle over funding of the program, which was passed into law over the objections of many Republicans in the Colorado legislature, who then successfully managed to reduce funding for the licenses.

It was not immediately clear whether investigators were in contact with any known victims.

The attorney general is asking victims who paid money for appointment times to come forward by filing a formal complaint online at www.stopfraudcolorado.gov or by calling in a tip to the office's consumer line at 1-800-222-4444.

(© 2016 KUSA)


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