NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A dozen New York City cab drivers have been arraigned on charges in connection with an alleged credit card scam.
All have been released without bail. Investigators said they stole tens of thousands of dollars from unwitting passengers between January and July of 2015.
According to the Department of Investigation, a taxi meter would be set to “5,” a rate used for negotiated rides outside the city, CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported.
The drivers would then run the meter for, at times, less than a minute and charge the inflated cost to stolen credit card numbers bilked from previous passengers, investigators said.
Court documents show in one case, a taxi drove less than a half mile and charged of up to $497. Others allegedly charged $400 without leaving their parking space.
The DOI said often times, there was never anybody in the back seat. Most of the alleged victims weren’t even in New York City at the time and their physical credit card was still in their wallets.
Authorities said the alleged scam earned the drivers connected to it nearly $40,000. The companies that operate the meters noticed the suspicious charges and tipped off the DOI.
“These taxi drivers turned their cabs into a crime scene,” DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said. “They exploited their taxi’s electronic payment systems to run up thousands of dollars in fake charges for fake rides, according to the charges.”
Some customers waiting for a ride at Penn Station are now thinking twice about how they’ll pay for their trip.
“Now we’re definitely not using a card,” said Dan Hrubec.
“I’m outraged,” said Joe Valdini. “That’s crazy.”
“Terrible,” Doug Ballard said. “I mean, you trust them, you want a ride, someone’s taking your info.”
Each of the 12 drivers who have been charged have had their Taxi and Limousine Commission license revoked, Doris reported.
A 13th man was also arrested in this operation for allegedly using his brother’s TLC license and pretending to be a cab driver himself.