NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A top Port Authority of New York and New Jersey law enforcement official said Friday that he may never be able to get rid of fake Uber drivers preying on people at local airports.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the frank admission came from Deputy Inspector John Roland Jr., commanding officer of the Port Authority police at John F. Kennedy International Airport. He was asked about the illegal hustlers at city airports who solicit unsuspecting passengers and take them for a ride – literally.
“I don’t know if we can ever completely get rid of it,” Roland said.
CBS2 undercover cameras discovered the hucksters grossly overcharging – up to $78 plus tolls for a trip from LaGuardia Airport to Manhattan that should only cost $40 at most. The drivers also add a phony sales tax – one of them at 10 percent – to further inflate their take, Kramer reported this week.
Roland said part of the problem is that penalties are too low. They pay the fines and are back on the roads in no time.
For one example, the Port Authority said a driver named Chevon Cole was arrested on May 26 at JFK on two counts of criminal trespass, unlawful solicitation, and possession of a forged instrument – believed to be a driver’s license.
But that did not stop him. On Sept. 21, he was hit with citations of having no driver’s license and unauthorized operation of a motor vehicle.
Some wonder why Port Authority police, with 1,700 officers patrolling airports compared to 175 Taxi and Limousine Commission inspectors, cannot get rid of the hustlers. Many of them trawl the airport for customers with great confidence.
Roland said the problem requires “legislative action to increase fines.”
He offered another reason.
“Part of the problem is that there’s a market for these individuals,” he said. “JFK Airport last year had 56 million people come through their airport, speaking probably a hundred different languages, and some people, when they encounter these individuals who may they speak their language; are familiar with their culture, they feel more comfortable.”
Roland said he hopes the court will soon give him the green light to start seizing the cars used by the hustlers, which will at least take them off the road for a longer period of time.