By Tony Aiello

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Fake license plates are a real and growing problem in New York City.

The counterfeit credentials have been linked to shootings and hit-and-run accidents.

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On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a crackdown.

As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reports, fake plates have been used to evade tolls at the RFK Bridge, and another pair of phony tags got a man busted by cops in Queens.

“Thousands and thousands of these illegal and fraudulent license plates out there,” de Blasio said.

The mayor says it’s a new focus for the NYPD. Cops are being trained to spot fake temporary tags.

Watch: Mayor, Police Officials Discuss Fake License Plate Problem

“So there’s certain markings that our police officers on patrol will be trained to be able to identify if a plate is fraudulent or not,” said NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison.

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Such as one clearly made on a home printer, or another whose streaky printing was a dead giveaway.

“This criminal phenomenon is a byproduct of COVID-19 when the Department of Motor Vehicles was shutdown and provided limited services,” Harrison said.

Harrison says the fake plates are being sold online for up to $2,000.

Criminals are using vehicles with fake plates in numerous shootings.

“We do have 33 identified shooting incidents that are involved with these fraudulent plates,” Harrison said. “There’s 562 crashes involving these fake plates where 293 injuries had occurred. So these numbers are alarming.”

Once you start looking, you’ll see vehicles with temporary paper tags on almost every block in the city, most marked as being from New Jersey or Texas, Aiello reported.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea says some are legit, but many are not.

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“There’s also the sense of fairness that people pay to have insurance and registration, and some people are getting around that,” Shea said.

Tony Aiello