6/2/2009Italy: Police Raid Speed Camera Company Caught in Fraud Scandal
Italian police find 81,555 speed camera tickets worth $16 million were fraudulently issued.
Italian police yesterday raided the Brescia headquarters of a speed camera manufacturer accused of fraud involving seventy municipalities throughout the country. Officers from the Guardia di Finanza, the law enforcement arm of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, seized computers, machine components and fifty speed cameras as evidence.
Salerno prosecutor Amato Barile ordered the raid after discovering evidence that Velomatic 512 photo radar units bearing the same individual serial number were being used by different municipalities located hundreds of miles apart. Under Italian regulations, each camera used for issuing citations must be properly calibrated and approved. By cloning serial numbers, the company avoided testing requirements. Prosecutors also believe that some of these cameras were calibrated in such a way that motorists adhering to the speed limit would receive citations.
As a result of a criminal conspiracy, 81,555 tickets worth 11.3 million euros (US $16 million) fraudulently issued between 2007 and 2009 have been canceled, refunds will be given and license points will be removed. The consumer watchdog group Codacons wants permanent changes in the law, including banning the ability of municipal governments to pad general funds with photo ticket revenue and a minimum five-second yellow warning time at intersections. In January, the makers of the T-Red brand of red light cameras were similarly arrested for fraud after prosecutors found motorists were being trapped at intersections with short yellows and improperly certified equipment.
"That yet another seizure has happened on the national territory demonstrates how municipalities are using illicit means and violating the law in order to make cash," a Codacons press release stated.
Yesterday's raid was given the code name "Operation Devius." The investigation is ongoing.