Sham's cam slams scam

In this video recorded on a dashboard-mounted camera, Raguruban Yogarajah stops his car in the middle of the highway—then lets it roll back into following traffic. Herman Sham, the other driver, claims to have been subjected to a shakedown as the two motorists examined the damage: $500 cash, or the cops get called.

Thanks to Sham's dashcam, however, it was Yogarajah who received charges: fraud, attempted fraud and public mischief.

Russia appears to be ground zero for this sort of shenanigan. Violent confrontations abound, but my favorite is this driver's ostentatious display of frustration and despair at being rear-ended by such an irresponsible dri--Oh wait, you have a dashcam? I'll be going, then.

There are lots of Dashcams on Amazon, but it looks like you need to spend at least $50 to get something decent. And they all kinda look janky, if you ask me. Would a GoPro be a better bet, or do you need a specialized device for battery-life reasons?


  1. A gopro is probably the “best” but isn’t really suited towards that type of work because it’s built around high quality video more than long duration recording.

    In my mind, the ideal solution would be a camera that keeps a rolling buffer and when something interesting happens, you mash a big red button somewhere and it writes the last 60 seconds or so and records until you tell it to stop. 

    Would save a bunch of effort down the road when it comes time to extract 30 seconds of excitement out of 500 hours of boredom.

    These things aren’t very conspicuous either.. gopros in particular are silver and easy to spot. So if you don’t want people to know you’re recording, you’ll probably want to stash a bulletcam somewhere. Quality suffers but they are absurdly small.

    1. “when something interesting happens, you mash a big red button somewhere”

      I’ve been waiting for someone to manufacture something like that for a decade now. Why haven’t they done it yet!?

      Anyway, GoPro (or its competitor Contour) is actually not a bad option, barring something more purpose-designed. My Contour recording 1080p @ 30fps, max bitrate, runs about 5 GB/hour. Battery life is 2+ hours at that rate. HD is good, because it helps improve reliability of identification of subjects.

      The main drawbacks include that it’s a very wide-angle lens, so you’re not going to get a lot of detail except for a car very close to you (i.e. reading the license plate might be hard). Of course the wide-angle is a plus in other ways.

      Of course, another issue is the UI is optimized for a completely different scenario. You would have to pop the memory card out or at least plug the camera into a PC just to wipe old video.

      I actually use a pair of ContourHD cameras on my bike. I commute on bike, and we’ve had a spate of cyclist fatalities in the last year where either it was a hit-and-run and the driver was never identified, or the driver was never prosecuted because of lack of any evidence of wrong-doing (don’t get me started on the question of why when there’s no dispute that the driver was way off on the shoulder and struck the cyclist twice, they aren’t de facto guilty of wrong-doing). I want to make sure there’s as good a chance as possible of identification if the worst ever happens to me.

      (I’d also hoped that the police would follow-up on more mundane issues, but in hindsight that was pretty silly of me. They won’t even prosecute a driver who admits to killing a cyclist riding right where he was supposed to, so of course they’re not going to spend any time of drivers who only almost kill a cyclist).

      Anyway, I’d rather have something just like you describe, with a rolling buffer and an easy way to capture the last X minutes. But barring that, these “wearable HD cameras” probably aren’t a bad alternative.

  2. A GoPro would work but might be overkill for this use.  It’s possible to power it continuously with the USB cable if battery life is a concern.

    Other issues to consider are recording time and storage, remembering to turn on/off the camera, managing the recordings (erasing old), etc..  Also, some of the cameras don’t do very well at night or handle extreme changes in light/dark quickly.

    The best might be a camera that is wired for power, automatically turns on/off when the car is running, and records in a loop mode where it begins recording at the beginning once the storage is filled.  The loop recording means you won’t be concerned with managing the recordings until you actually needed one.

    1. Continuous USB power depends on the car. I remember trying to use a smartphone (powered by the car’s cigarette lighter, for which USB adapters are easily available) for navigation in a friend’s car, and the cable being dislodged whenever he changed gear.

  3. What?  Why buy anything.  Your phone is probably already in a cradle on your windshield.  I turn my video on for any trip in heavy traffic.  If uneventful, I just delete the clip when I get to work/home.  

    1. Yikes, I’d never do that with my phone! It’s too expensive and vital to my brain organ to replace should it get damaged in a phony accident. A dash cam seems like a much safer investment.

  4. Yogarajah will be needing a lawyer. One who’s familiar with net based butt hurt. James Carreon, this is a match made in hell. :-)

  5. I had a road rage incident get defused recently when my obvious videorecording of the other drivers antics made him rethink the wisdom of doing anything stupid. Hidden cameras are ok, but I’d rather avoid the situation by advertising my intent.

    I hate the thought of us living in a surveillance society but does anyone have a better solution?

    1. I don’t think “surveillance society” is the right way to describe this.  You aren’t taking that footage and submitting it to the police so they can fine Ricky over there for not signalling on a lane change.

      I’d call this a need for insurance society, because there are so many dishonest worthless people out there looking to sue you to make a quick buck instead of being a productive member of society.  

      A dashcam is great for your situation too though, people get so worked up driving and usually they were driving poorly to begin with.

  6. I once made it to voir dire for a civil case about two Russians (with an interpreter) who claimed to have been rear-ended by a woman. She said it was a scam. One of the other members of the potential jury volunteered to the judge, when she asked about prejudicial situations, that his wife had, in fact, been rear-ended by Russians in a scam, and it had been a whole deal. The judge didn’t dismiss him. (I was juror #27 or something, and was dismissed when they enpaneled.)

    Apparently, it’s a very common scam in Seattle, too.

  7. Thanks to youtube, international scams are coming soon to streets near me!  Guess it’s time to get a dash cam.  :/

  8. i’ve tried some car camera apps for my phone but running those apps seem to cause issues when running a gps navigation app at the same time. a dedicated camera might be better.

  9. Pretty ballsy stopping in the middle of an obviously busy highway.   Guys are lucky they didn’t get into a real accident, especially standing between the cars.

  10. A dashcam only works because it doesn’t rely on you to remember to operate and maintain it – it’s completely automatic – it starts recording when the motor starts, and stops recording 30 seconds (or whatever) after the motor stops. It never runs out of storage/memory; eventually it just loops around and records over old footage.
    If you use a camera that you have to start and stop, erase memory etc, then it’s very unlikely to be running during the unexpected moment you need it, no matter how glossy and fun it was to use when you first bought it.
    It would be great if something like gopro could be made to do this (custom firmware?)

  11. Japan (!) has excellent average-consumer solutions for people interested in dash-cams. We ordered this one that uses SD cards:
    and installed it without fuss in our Matrix after consulting the knowledge base that is the internet:
    You can select one frame rate for when the car is in motion and another for when it is parked. So far so good. Hope we never need it.

  12. There’s a related scam in Britain where they have a switch that deactivates their brake lights, then slam on the brakes in front of you…

  13. If you are interested in dash cams, these two are top-of-the-line:

    BlackVue DR400G HD 

    Itronics ITB200HD 

    You can also set these up to run while your car is parked and turned off (with a power control unit) and there is an Android app to download video direct from the camera.

    Beware cheap knock-offs on eBay. Video has to be at least 30fps to catch license plates. Anything under $100 won’t record jack at night.

    Just FYI.

    1. I bought a Blackvue to supplement or replace my Visiondrive VD3000 recorder, but I haven’t figured a good discrete way to mount either in my rear window.

      The Visiondrive required too much customization (tweaking the plastic to allow the camera to point low enough, adding a switch to turn off the LCD backlight, downloading Korean language firmware because English firmware updates aren’t easily found) and the video is a bit too washed out.

      The Blackvue camera seems to have better dynamic range (though maybe that changes with age- bleaching of the sensor?), there seems to be English firmware updates available on their corporate website (though maybe one revision old?), it has more features like the parking mode and mutable alerts, and it’s smaller, due in part to not having a playback screen (count that as a pro or con).

      What I’d really like is something for my bicycle(s) too.

  14. Some more back story: this scam was perpetrated on Highway 401 in Toronto, North America’s busiest freeway, during early morning rush hour.

    The video was originally posted on the forums of, a Canadian bargainhunter website, and members were quick to uncover everything from where the perp “Ragu” worked (a bank, which someone helpfully notified) to his AutoCheck history (no reported accidents, but lots of license plates changed) to his driving records (multiple invalid license plate violations). More seriously, many threads were deleted because a few people started driving by his home and workplace hoping to find him or his car.

    It has spawned a minor meme where bad drivers are been referred to as “ragus” and posters encourage each other to drive carefully and “avoid getting ragu’d” There are some epic Photoshop lols in this thread:

    Ultimately, this video led several hundred Toronto folks to import a large batch of Blackvue dashcams from Korea and eBay. It’s paranoid, however in consider an onboard camera costs less than $200 but a false accident report could cost thousands of dollars in insurance premiums.

    1. I’ve been stuck in traffic for hours on the 401 but I’d never heard it referred to as the busiest in NA. I think it’s a lot more pleasant to drive on than some of the busy freeways in the US, particularly in Los Angeles, so while it may be the busiest it’s certainly not the worst.

    app for the phone.   does decent quality and will also snap photos along the way.  Can push it yourself to where you want or to their site.  for a premium i think it’ll also overlay gps/speed/time.  here’s a sample from a trip i’ve done if anyone wants to see quality.

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