13th Driver Also Accused Of Impersonating Brother

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Twelve licensed New York City taxi drivers have been arrested on charges that they ran a credit card scam amounting to nearly $40,000.

The Department of Investigation said Thursday that the alleged fraud took place between January and July 2015. Authorities said in more than 100 cases, credit card holders weren’t even in taxis – but they were taken for a ride, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.

“The Department of Investigation arrested 12taxi cab drivers for essentially turning their cabs into crime scenes,” said DOI Commissioner Mark Peters.

The drivers were accused of using their taxis’ electronic payment systems to run up fake charges for rides that did not really happen.

At the time of the alleged frauds, CMT and Verifone provided all electronic services in yellow and green city cabs, including payment systems. The vendors typically use the data collected from customers to determine payments for drivers and immediately pay the drivers while waiting for credit card information process, the DOI said.

When CMT and Verifone were reviewing the data to make payments, they noticed suspicious trips by certain cabs and notified DOI, the department said.

The drivers were allegedly using credit cards to make multiple transactions for high dollar amounts without the cardholders authorizing the payments or even being in the cabs, the DOI said. Most of the “trips” lasted last than a minute, and the cabs didn’t even go anywhere in some cases, the DOI said.

But the charges all ranged from $100 to $499, the DOI said.

The DOI said it found out some of the cardholders did not take cabs at the times the payments were recorded or were not even in New York City at the time, but had their credit cards in their possession.

“I’m outraged,” Joe Valdini of Farmingdale told CBS2. “As a New York citizen, you know, that’s crazy.”

Doug Ballard of Tinton Falls, New Jersey said the revelations have made him rethink how he pays in cabs.

“Does it make me want to not use credit cards? Yes, I would think so. Maybe now I’ll pay in cash right now,” he said.

The following people were charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property:

• Janzeb Altaf, 22, of Queens, who is charged with stealing $3,022 over 19 fraudulent transactions;

• Jean Massango, 43, of Tarrytown, who is charged with stealing $6,148 over 14 fraudulent transactions;

• Lidal Seck, 51, of Manahttan, who is charged with stealing $7,91 over 25 fraudulent transactions;

• Moulevais Balthazard Jr., 28, of Brooklyn, who is charged with stealing $1,075 over seven fraudulent transactions;

• Aboubacar Jalloh, 51, of Brooklyn, who is charged with stealing $1,656 over four fraudulent transactions;

• Marie Louissaint, 42, of Brooklyn, who is charged with stealing $1,186 over six fraudulent transactions;

• Maher Mansour, 56, of Queens, who is charged with stealing $2,825 over 15 fraudulent transactions;

• Alhadi Ragab-Hilal, 51, of Manhattan, who is charged with stealing $2,502 over 10 fraudulent transactions;

• Mouhamodou Seck, 59, of the Bronx, who is charged with stealing $1,111 over four fraudulent transactions;

• Mijander Singh, 25, of Queens, who is charged with stealing $1,100 over three fraudulent transactions.

• Yahaya Diaby, 35, of Manhattan, who is charged with stealing $3,150 over 15 fraudulent transactions;

The twelfth driver is only charged with grand larceny:

• Ibrahim Fofana, 40, of the Bronx, who is charged with stealing $3,145 over 17 fraudulent transactions.

A 13th defendant, Mamefall Seck, 58, was charged with criminal impersonation on the grounds that he was found late this past Wednesday driving a cab assigned to his brother, Mouhamodou Seck.

Each of the defendants’ TLC licenses has been suspended. If convicted, they will be revoked.

The investigation continued late Thursday.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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