A car clamping firm doctored a ticket machine to con Birmingham motorists out of hundreds of pounds, a court heard.
Car Clamping Securities is accused of systematically defrauded motorists using a city centre car park between May 2008 and November 2009.
One motorist who believed he had hours still left on the parking ticket he had purchased was shocked to discover his vehicle had been clamped and towed away.
The Roses car park in New Canal Street, where he had left his Citroen Berlingo, was operated by the clamping firm, it was alleged.
Mark Wall QC, prosecuting at Birmingham Crown Court, said the most serious and obvious way the company, run by Steven Ryan, conned their victims was by doctoring a ticket machine.
He said an extra computer chip had been fitted inside it which meant that if you put a £2 coin in the machine it would accept it but at the same time the coin would not give any credit.
Mr Wall said clamped vehicles were taken to a compound in Ladywood where motorists would have to pay about £300 for the privilege of having their vehicles released.
Mervyn Rees said when he went to Roses at about 4.30pm a man, who appeared to be loading a machine with tickets, gave him a ticket after he handed over £2.
He said the ticket’s expiry date was just before midnight but when he returned to the car park about an hour and a quarter later he found his car had “disappeared”.
Mr Rees said he initially thought the vehicle had been stolen but was told by others that they had seen it being clamped and towed.
He said he rang a number and was told that he had bought the wrong ticket for that car park and to get to the compound by 6pm.
Mr Rees said when he got to the compound he was met by “two very large gentlemen” in a white van and that he paid them £315 to have his vehicle released.
Ryan (54) of St Bernards Road, Solihull, John Kattri (33) of Green Street, Smethwick, Christopher Woodham (42) of Bondfield Road, Billesley, Paul Wright (35) of Shannon Road, Kings Norton and Jaroslaw Kula (28) of Alcester Road, Moseley have all denied conspiracy to defraud between May 2008 and November 2009.
Ryan had also pleaded not guilty to a charge of controlling an article for the use of fraud.
The case continues.