Incorrect Unpaid Fare

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DonnyDad

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Hello all

Perhaps you can help - daughter received an unpaid fine letter today from LNER. Thing is, she doesn't even travel on that route and was actually at her place of work at the time and we can corroborate that. So it seems that someone has used her details to get out of an unpaid railway journey. The letter is weird and fishy - it looks like a photocopy and my daughters name is typed at the top but the address has been hand-written in biro on a sticker and placed over an existing address that has been rubbed out with a black marker pen. The date of the letter has also been rubbed out with black marker pen and re-written manually. We've tried holding it up to the light but can't see the original details but there is obviously something there that someone doesn't want us to see.

There are some strange anomalies in the letter as well - it's demanding payment in 21 days but says 28 days on the LNER website. The phone number is also slightly wrong - it's asking to call LNER's parking fine payment phone number which is different to the unpaid fair payments number, if that makes sense? The email for appeals is weird too - it's [email protected] (remove the dots!) but the official appeals email is [email protected] - I can't seem to find what [email protected] is. I've emailed LNER appeals (the 'official' one) and yet to receive a reply. Obviously, this is causing us a bit of distress - not just the letter but the fact someone has gone out of their way to try and implicate her in this.

Just wanted to ask your thoughts on what we can expect to happen regarding LNER, as in how good/bad they are at dealing with this kind of thing? Does the letter sound legit and is this a common thing? Would the revenue officer have recorded any ID details from the person? Obviously we don't want to pay someone else's fine and would like to know who it actually is!

Many thanks in anticipation
 
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Gloster

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You should get a lot of wise advice on this thread over the next few days: not everybody looks at the site everyday. However, although I am no expert on the subject, I will just say one thing. Don’t do anything in a hurry. In particular, don’t supply anyone with any details (e-mail, bank, etc.) until you are quite sure about the letter being genuine. It may be a scam, a mistake, or just somebody’s prank. At the same time, don’t just ignore it and hope it will go away. If it should be genuine, that could lead to problems.

As I said at the top, I am no expert and others will provide you with much more detailed and thorough advice. And do not worry.
 

DonnyDad

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You should get a lot of wise advice on this thread over the next few days: not everybody looks at the site everyday. However, although I am no expert on the subject, I will just say one thing. Don’t do anything in a hurry. In particular, don’t supply anyone with any details (e-mail, bank, etc.) until you are quite sure about the letter being genuine. It may be a scam, a mistake, or just somebody’s prank. At the same time, don’t just ignore it and hope it will go away. If it should be genuine, that could lead to problems.

As I said at the top, I am no expert and others will provide you with much more detailed and thorough advice. And do not worry.
Thank you, most appreciated and will take all that on board :)
 

gray1404

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Could you please upload a copy of the letter with any personal details retracted. Thank you.
 

DonnyDad

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Could you please upload a copy of the letter with any personal details retracted. Thank you.

Sure ... let me know if I've left anything personal on it! I should also add, the letter arrived in a seemingly correctly-franked envelope too but the address was a window to the letter..

IMG_2507.jpg
 

furlong

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Inconsistencies in letters are not unusual - things change over time but they don't update all their templates. An email address starting 'ec' may date back to the time when they were 'East Coast'. A sticker may mean the original was returned to them and they used other sources to try to track down the right address. Either phone or write back making it clear they've got the wrong person, and if it'll be easy for her to prove she was at work, you might as well say that's the case too (without actually providing any personal information or the actual evidence at this stage). Make sure you get an acknowledgement.
 
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Gloster

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One point that the experts may want to know. Where it says ‘Dear Miss...’ , does the name (presumably your family name) that you have blanked out appear to be in the same print style as the rest of the letter, or does it appear to have been added or inserted?

As said above, I am no expert. Others may or may not feel that this point is relevant.
 

DonnyDad

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One point that the experts may want to know. Where it says ‘Dear Miss...’ , does the name (presumably your family name) that you have blanked out appear to be in the same print style as the rest of the letter, or does it appear to have been added or inserted?

As said above, I am no expert. Others may or may not feel that this point is relevant.
Good point - as far as I can see, it's in the same font as the rest of the letter.

Inconsistencies in letters are not unusual - things change over time but they don't update all their templates. A sticker may mean the original was returned to them and they used other sources to try to track down the right address. Either phone or write back making it clear they've got the wrong person, and if it'll be easy for her to prove she was at work, you might as well say that's the case too. Make sure you get an acknowledgement.
Thank you. Interesting points which we'd not thought of. I've emailed LNER so I'll see what they say the next steps are and keep this updated.
 

Haywain

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The discrepancy of 21/28 days has arisen because you have conflated a letter requesting settlement of a potential court issue with an Unpaid Fare Notice. The latter is a specific document with it’s own specific rules, and it is this which you have read about on the LNER website.
I can confirm that the email addresses and phone number on the letter are genuine and would suggest that you respond to those in any correspondence.
 

Mak1981

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The hand written sticker may allude to what's happened, I'm guessing your daughter has moved house at some point, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that the new occupier of her old address has obtained a letter or something sent to your daughter at the old address, and when challenged has used that letter as proof of name and address, the railway has then subsequently used other methods to traced your daughter to the new address
 

Nottingham59

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used other methods to traced your daughter to the new address
I'm sure you know this, but we should make clear that LNER have not "traced" the OP's daughter. She was never involved. They seem to have found the daughter's address from somewhere, and are now pursuing her in error.
 
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DonnyDad

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Thanks all, most helpful stuff and so it seems the letter *is* genuine! It's an interesting point about my daughter moving house as she was living in uni digs at the time but came back home because of lockdown. Saying that, she still 'officially' lives there and will be going back after lockdown. If the letter did originally arrive there, it narrows down the culprit. @Mak1981 Thanks for your comment - yes, she was at work that day!

@all We're probably not going to hear from them until Monday at the earliest so what would you expect LNER's response to be in this situation?

Thanks
 

gray1404

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Your daughter (not yourself) should contact LNER at the email address stated on the letter, quoting the reference number, stating that she was not the person stopped on the day and her details have clearly been incorrectly provided. She should therefore ask LNER to close the matter as far as her involvement is concerned and ask for confirmation of this from them. She may wish to state that was in work that day and can provide evidence of this.
 

DonnyDad

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Your daughter (not yourself) should contact LNER at the email address stated on the letter, quoting the reference number, stating that she was not the person stopped on the day and her details have clearly been incorrectly provided. She should therefore ask LNER to close the matter as far as her involvement is concerned and ask for confirmation of this from them. She may wish to state that was in work that day and can provide evidence of this.
Thanks, I've kinda done that from myself but daughter will do it also.
 

ainsworth74

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I think I'll start with summarising a bit what is happening from LNER's point of view which will hopefully give you a better understanding of what's going on and then I'll follow that up with slightly more on what I'd suggest you do next.

(Usual disclaimer that I'm just a bloke on the internet so this isn't legal advice)

So on 29/10/2020 a member of LNERs revenue protection team came across an individual who did not have a valid ticket to travel despite having boarded at a station where their were ticket issuing facilities (Wakefield Westgate as TVMs and a ticket office as well as barriers) as such they decided to take details from the individual so that they could make a report to LNERs prosecutions unit. As part of this they will have probably asked for proof of identity but no doubt the individual declined and whilst LNER were probably able to verify the details given existed and were legitimate they, of course, have no way of determining for certain that the person in front of them is in fact the person whose details they're giving.

So LNER's prosecutions unit will have received the report and determined that an offence has occurred specifically a contravention of Railway Byelaw 18.1. This is a strict liability matter (like speeding you either did it or you didn't, there's no mitigating circumstances beyond those provided for within Byelaw 18 itself) and so the person concerned has committed a criminal offence (non-recordable but still it is a criminal offence not a civil dispute). Now LNER would rather not spend the time and money actually taking the case to court and know that most people will also prefer to avoid court so they've sent a letter to the address that they hold for the individual offering them to pay the fare outstanding and their administration costs for dealing with it (I suspect last year an Anytime Single from Wakefield to Doncaster was £10.40 so they've then just added £100 for admin costs). If paid the matter goes away and if not they prosecute.

This is why your finding conflicting information as this isn't an unpaid fares issue this is, in effect, a fare evasion letter before action which allows you to settle the matter before going to court.

Now my advice on how to proceed would be that your daughter replies to LNER and, politely, states that she's received their correspondence regarding a journey made between Wakefield and Doncaster on 29/10/2020 however they have been given false information by whoever their member of staff spoke with as she was not travelling on that date between the two places and so is not the individual that has committed an offence. On the relevant date she was indeed at work and as a gesture of good faith and to aid LNER in their enquires enclosed is some proof to demonstrate that fact. Please therefore would LNER kindly confirm in writing that the matter is now closed and no further action will be taken against her.

You will then just have to wait and see what happens. She may wish to not only email but also send a letter by recorded delivery to the address on the letter so there can be no dispute later about when she responded to them and what was said.

The final thing I'd say is that I note that LNER gave a date but they did not give a time for when the journey was made so unless she was at work for 24 hours there is a chance she may not have been at work when the offence too place. I have no reason to doubt you or your daughter but is there even an outside chance that perhaps she did make the journey in question and isn't being entirely forthcoming to you? You wouldn't be the first concerned parent we've had on here who has later found out that the story given to them by their child wasn't quite fully accurate. I'm quite happy with the sequence of events that you've explained to us on here as they make total sense but it's possibly something to keep in mind.
 

DonnyDad

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I think I'll start with summarising a bit what is happening from LNER's point of view which will hopefully give you a better understanding of what's going on and then I'll follow that up with slightly more on what I'd suggest you do next.

(Usual disclaimer that I'm just a bloke on the internet so this isn't legal advice)

So on 29/10/2020 a member of LNERs revenue protection team came across an individual who did not have a valid ticket to travel despite having boarded at a station where their were ticket issuing facilities (Wakefield Westgate as TVMs and a ticket office as well as barriers) as such they decided to take details from the individual so that they could make a report to LNERs prosecutions unit. As part of this they will have probably asked for proof of identity but no doubt the individual declined and whilst LNER were probably able to verify the details given existed and were legitimate they, of course, have no way of determining for certain that the person in front of them is in fact the person whose details they're giving.

So LNER's prosecutions unit will have received the report and determined that an offence has occurred specifically a contravention of Railway Byelaw 18.1. This is a strict liability matter (like speeding you either did it or you didn't, there's no mitigating circumstances beyond those provided for within Byelaw 18 itself) and so the person concerned has committed a criminal offence (non-recordable but still it is a criminal offence not a civil dispute). Now LNER would rather not spend the time and money actually taking the case to court and know that most people will also prefer to avoid court so they've sent a letter to the address that they hold for the individual offering them to pay the fare outstanding and their administration costs for dealing with it (I suspect last year an Anytime Single from Wakefield to Doncaster was £10.40 so they've then just added £100 for admin costs). If paid the matter goes away and if not they prosecute.

This is why your finding conflicting information as this isn't an unpaid fares issue this is, in effect, a fare evasion letter before action which allows you to settle the matter before going to court.

Now my advice on how to proceed would be that your daughter replies to LNER and, politely, states that she's received their correspondence regarding a journey made between Wakefield and Doncaster on 29/10/2020 however they have been given false information by whoever their member of staff spoke with as she was not travelling on that date between the two places and so is not the individual that has committed an offence. On the relevant date she was indeed at work and as a gesture of good faith and to aid LNER in their enquires enclosed is some proof to demonstrate that fact. Please therefore would LNER kindly confirm in writing that the matter is now closed and no further action will be taken against her.

You will then just have to wait and see what happens. She may wish to not only email but also send a letter by recorded delivery to the address on the letter so there can be no dispute later about when she responded to them and what was said.

The final thing I'd say is that I note that LNER gave a date but they did not give a time for when the journey was made so unless she was at work for 24 hours there is a chance she may not have been at work when the offence too place. I have no reason to doubt you or your daughter but is there even an outside chance that perhaps she did make the journey in question and isn't being entirely forthcoming to you? You wouldn't be the first concerned parent we've had on here who has later found out that the story given to them by their child wasn't quite fully accurate. I'm quite happy with the sequence of events that you've explained to us on here as they make total sense but it's possibly something to keep in mind.
Many thanks for this and really distressing to hear about the criminal offence as opposed to a civil matter, which actually makes it all the more sinister and more scary too. It must be someone who knows her, most probably a 'friend' but they're willing to let her take the rap for what is in effect, a crime. We are all very concerned and distressed, not least the complete unfairness of it all but now the potential of criminal charges. Oh my.

I appreciate your last point but I can vouch absolutely for the veracity of my daughters story - there are other mitigating factors which I can't really say here, but suffice to say, she wouldn't have been on that train.
 

ainsworth74

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Many thanks for this and really distressing to hear about the criminal offence as opposed to a civil matter, which actually makes it all the more sinister and more scary too. It must be someone who knows her, most probably a 'friend' but they're willing to let her take the rap for what is in effect, a crime. We are all very concerned and distressed, not least the complete unfairness of it all but now the potential of criminal charges. Oh my.

It is awful and I'm sorry that you and daughter are having to go through but I wouldn't try and worry yourself too much right now over it. Clearly she hasn't done anything wrong and I'm hopeful that confronted with the right evidence LNER will acknowledge that and you'll be able to move on.
I appreciate your last point but I can vouch absolutely for the veracity of my daughters story - there are other mitigating factors which I can't really say here, but suffice to say, she wouldn't have been on that train.
That's absolutely fine :)
 

eoff

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...

Now my advice on how to proceed would be that your daughter replies to LNER and, politely, states that she's received their correspondence regarding a journey made between Wakefield and Doncaster on 29/10/2020 however they have been given false information by whoever their member of staff spoke with as she was not travelling on that date between the two places and so is not the individual that has committed an offence.

...

I would be inclined to be more concise... "I have received a letter concerning a journey made betweeen Wakefield and Doncaster on 29/10/2020. I did not make that journey, was elsewhere and can provide evidence to that effect. Please confirm the exact time of the journey...
 

DonnyDad

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I would be inclined to be more concise... "I have received a letter concerning a journey made betweeen Wakefield and Doncaster on 29/10/2020. I did not make that journey, was elsewhere and can provide evidence to that effect. Please confirm the exact time of the journey...
sounds good :)
 

furlong

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I'll just add that of course this situation happens a lot and they'll be used to dealing with it so there shouldn't be any need to worry. They will normally have some extra information that they haven't mentioned - a written description of the person, perhaps a picture as well as usually being able to speak to the person who dealt with it to discuss their notes of the encounter.
 

Fawkes Cat

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To just add one point which is probably unnecessary here but may be helpful if someone in a similar (but slightly different) situation stumbles upon this thread and wants to follow the suggestions given:

In this particular case, it looks as if the letter is genuine (although its redirection could be unreliable). But in general if you have received something unexpected, then if you reply use an address/email/phone number that you have sourced from a reliable and independent source. That way, you give yourself some protection against a scammer asking you to contact an address they (rather than the railway) control.
 

Haywain

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sounds good :)
You would be better following the advice that @ainsworth74 gave above. It will sound rather less like looking for something that your daughter can disagree with. If it's a fact that your daughter did not travel at all, then the time is not really of any relevance.
 

DonnyDad

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I'll just add that of course this situation happens a lot and they'll be used to dealing with it so there shouldn't be any need to worry. They will normally have some extra information that they haven't mentioned - a written description of the person, perhaps a picture as well as usually being able to speak to the person who dealt with it to discuss their notes of the encounter.

Thank you, let's hope so :)
 

eoff

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You would be better following the advice that @ainsworth74 gave above. It will sound rather less like looking for something that your daughter can disagree with. If it's a fact that your daughter did not travel at all, then the time is not really of any relevance.

The time is relevant if you offer to give them targeted evidence to prove that you were not on the service they claim, otherwise would you really want to provide proof of location at all times during the day in question?
 

30907

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The time is relevant if you offer to give them targeted evidence to prove that you were not on the service they claim, otherwise would you really want to provide proof of location at all times during the day in question?
I suspect LNER will accept a straightforward statement like "I was at my workplace in Sometown and will provide confirmation if you request it."
If they then ask for evidence, that is the time to request the time details - don't make them extra work until they make you extra work!
 

robbeech

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One thing to remember, and this is absolutely no excuse, people often don’t know the consequences of these offences. A ‘friend’ may have not realised the consequences were are serious as they are. Many people laugh at the thought that you can end up in court and be fined well into 4 figures and will simply not believe it. As I say it doesn’t make it acceptable in any way but sometimes it gives a better understanding.
 

DonnyDad

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One thing to remember, and this is absolutely no excuse, people often don’t know the consequences of these offences. A ‘friend’ may have not realised the consequences were are serious as they are. Many people laugh at the thought that you can end up in court and be fined well into 4 figures and will simply not believe it. As I say it doesn’t make it acceptable in any way but sometimes it gives a better understanding.
yes agreed, fair point, I'd like to think the 'friend' hasn't realized what could happen or even if the TOC would ever track down the name they gave.

Update: LNER have responded to the email and were quite understanding - they require a copy of my daughters photo with ID etc as the culprit was captured on a body cam. Will let you know in due course the outcome. Fingers crossed this resolves the issue. We probably won't get to know who it really was but we shall certainly make the request!

Many thanks for all your replies and most helpful suggestions.
 
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Nottingham59

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Thank you for your update. I hope that does resolve the issue for you both.

You might want to think very carefully before making any request for further information about the identity of the culprit. It is possible that it is someone your daughter knows very well (perhaps even another family member?). Once known that sort of information can never be unknown.

Also, it is possible that LNER might ask your daughter if she can identify them from the bodycam images, which may lead to their arrest and charges of them giving a false name and address or even the very serious charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

I'm not saying you shouldn't ask: please just be aware of possible consequences if you do.
 

DonnyDad

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Thank you for your update. I hope that does resolve the issue for you both.

You might want to think very carefully before making any request for further information about the identity of the culprit. It is possible that it is someone your daughter knows very well (perhaps even another family member?). Once known that sort of information can never be unknown.

Also, it is possible that LNER might ask your daughter if she can identify them from the bodycam images, which may lead to their arrest and charges of them giving a false name and address or even the very serious charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

I'm not saying you shouldn't ask: please just be aware of possible consequences if you do.
Thanks for that very good point and yes we will take that into consideration. :D
 

Tallguy

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Thanks for that very good point and yes we will take that into consideration. :D
It is highly unlike.y that the TOC will give you the details of the person who impersonated your daughter due to data protection. I can see how your daughter may be asked to look at a CCTV image but that request may well come from the Police, rather than the TOC.
 
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