Motorists in Epping Forest have been warned about scammers mimicking a parking app to steal money and "harvest" personal data.

Since the City of London Corporation introduced parking charges in the forest, the RingGo app for online parking payments has been one way to pay alongside telephone and ticket machines.

But Essex County Council has shared advice on avoiding a known clone app after a walker reported having money taken from his account after downloading it.

Read more:

The walker said he was “taken aback” by the fake app, which “looked just like RingGo”.

He had decided to install the app after getting home from a trip to the forest during which his friends used it.

Googling the RingGo app led to what looked like the real site with a link to download.

After entering his details, he received a message that said ‘you have subscribed to Media Craze’.

He said: “The website was a scam, which looks exactly like RingGo.

Epping Forest Guardian: RingGoRingGo (Image: RingGo)

“Luckily, we were at home and not going straight into the forest so could get on top of it.”

Fortunately despite trying to make multiple transactions the scammers were only able to take one pound out before a second transaction for £1.45 was stopped and the bank cancelled his credit card.

The scam victim added that he was concerned with parking for Epping Forest being moved online, especially as it could impact older people who are not used to the technology.

A county council spokesperson said: “Scammers have been presenting their websites or app to customers as the legitimate RingGo service, taking their money and harvesting their personal data.

“Similar warnings apply to other similar parking service apps and websites."

“Drivers should remain vigilant of these attempts and only download the RingGo app from certified vendors such as Apple's App Store, the Google Play Store, Huawei App Gallery or the official RingGo website.”

A spokesperson for the City of London Corporation said: “People can pay using the RinGo app or by telephone at all our car parks. And there are ticket machines to pay by card in several locations.

“All charges are reinvested into managing the forest.”

RingGo has been approached for comment.