Scammers target people who try to pay for parking by tampering with the machines and then stealing their cards.
A local authority has now issued a warning after several reports of the fraud.
The system allows a scammer to tamper with a machine so that those who try to park are forced to enter their car and card details.
The bank cards are then swallowed and the latter collected by the thief.
Richmond City Council warned victims they could lose thousands of pounds from their bank account within minutes of losing their card, reports The mirror.
Councilor Alexander Ehmann said, “Until the criminals are caught, please pay special attention to scammers and tell your friends and family members who may not have seen this warning message to be careful too.”
He added, “Please try using contactless payments, cash at parking machines, or using RingGo.
“If you think you have been a victim of this fraud, contact your bank immediately to have your debit card canceled.”
The council added that under normal circumstances it is impossible for a payment and issuing machine to swallow a bank card – as cards can only partially be inserted into the payment slot.
A spokesman said drivers should be careful if someone approaches them to pay and never insert a card into a parking meter when someone they do not know is around.
A similar scam was reported in Peterborough in 2019 when two drivers lost £ 700 and £ 530 after committing the crime.
In both cases, the victims’ cards were removed from the machine just seconds after they tried to make a payment.
Police were told that the victims were both approached by a man who claimed the machine “does not accept cash”.