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Police nab taxi drivers for cheating foreigners
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Police in Shanghai Pudong New Area have detained eight taxi drivers suspected of overcharging foreign passengers and robbing them if they refused to pay.

The suspects worked for six different taxi companies, and they had committed 13 such crimes since December, police said yesterday.

Police received a report in mid-January from a Japanese passenger who said he flagged down a taxi at the Longyang Road Maglev station, but the driver charged him an outrageous sum when he arrived at his destination.

The passenger told police he refused to pay such a large amount, but was threatened by the driver who did not allow him to get out of the vehicle until he at last handed over 20,000 yen (US$196).

Investigators from the Shanghai Traffic Law Enforcement Team immediately launched intensive searches in the area around the Longyang Road Station. They found other foreign passengers who said they had been overcharged.

"There are more foreign passengers who want to take a taxi at Longyang Road Station than other areas," said an official from the Pudong New Area Public Security Bureau surnamed Qiao. "We found some cab drivers deliberately waiting there to target foreigners who tend to be not familiar with the city."

Based on evidence uncovered by the investigators, police caught four suspects of a ring allegedly headed by a man surnamed Wu on February 21. Police also seized 10,000 yen from Wu's residence.

Wu allegedly told police the ring targeted foreign passengers, especially Japanese tourists. He gave the names of other members of the ring.

Another four suspects allegedly headed by a person surnamed Pan were responsible for introducing foreign passengers to the cab drivers. They charged the drivers 50 yuan (US$7.2) to 100 yuan.

Police said many taxi drivers regarded cheating passengers as something to be dealt with by the taxi industry.

Crackdown on bad cabbies continues

Agents of Shanghai's taxi watchdog started a new round in their crackdown on malicious cabbies at transport hubs and commercial centers yesterday morning.

The traffic law enforcement team said they had punished 320 taxi drivers for various violations during the campaign that kicked off in February. Common offenses include refusing and dumping passengers, overcharging and providing fake invoices.

Teams of agents pretending to be passengers started work at 9am yesterday.

Officials say passengers should complain to taxi companies or the watchdog if their driver claims he or she does not know how to get to a well-known spot in the city.

(Shanghai Daily April 17, 2008)

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