New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission stated that around 3000 taxi drivers in city overcharged riders by fixing their meters to charge rates that wouldn’t apply to trips inside the five boroughs.
According to the commission’s statistics, the fraud was comprised of around 1.8 million rides and cost the passengers an average of $4-5 more than the correct fare. Officials said that the drivers pushed the switches, which kicked in higher rates on their meters that cost the New York travelers a total of $8.3 million. The 1.8 million trips is just a small part of the total of 360 million trips during the 26 month period.
Agency officials said that upon learning of this scheme they immediately contacted the companies who manufacture the meters and ordered them to create meters, which warn travelers when the higher rates are charged.
The inquiry was started when a passenger complained about a cab driver from Brooklyn. The investigators soon found out that he had overcharged more than 500 passengers in just one month. His license has since then been revoked.
The officials state that this might be the biggest fraud in the history of the taxi industry. The commission has handed over its investigation to the Department of Investigation. The penalty for overcharging can evoke a fine of $200 or cancellation of the cab license depending on how much was overcharged.
The taxi industry on the other hand questioned the credibility of the city’s findings and said that it was impossible that this problem could have been due to deliberate fraud on part of the drivers. Instead, Mr. Bhairavi Desai who is the executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance said that the findings if seen from another point of view clearly showed the systematic failure of the meters and the technology used in developing the meters.