How a hacker got himself pinged with thousands in parking tickets

A computer whiz who thought he could avoid parking tickets with a clever number plate has admitted the ruse backfired.

The security expert, known by his online handle Droogie, told a recent hacking conference how it all went wrong, reports Mashable.

He registered the number plate 'NULL', which is used in programming to denote no value, telling the DEF CON conference in Las Vegas he thought he was "the shit" and would avoid ever getting another parking or driving ticket.

"I'm gonna be invisible," he reportedly told the crowd on Saturday. "Instead, I got all the tickets."

In the first year, nothing was amiss. But when he went to reregister his plates online, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) site broke, unable to handle the 'NULL' value. 

Soon after, Droogie says he got a legitimate parking ticket - then the floodgates opened. A database of outstanding tickets assigned to unknown number plates was triggered - if you hadn't already guessed, they were in the system as 'NULL'.

Droogie says he was then asked to pay up US$12,000 worth of tickets.

"This is bullshit," Droogie said.

He explained the situation to the DMV, which gave him some obvious advice: ditch the NULL plate. He refused, saying he'd done nothing wrong. The tickets were eventually wiped, but new ones continue to be sent.

On the DEF CON website, Droogie said it was "surprising at how we're still seeing amateur mistakes being made on everyday applications and systems used by millions... especially in government systems". 

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