Crafty thieves robbing taxi drivers blind
"One time dem used to hold up taxi man and rob them, it's a different trend dem come with now," Daniel Whyte, manager of City Guide Taxi company said, as he explained that a myriad of scams have been plaguing taxi services over the years.
Whyte, who has been in the hackney carriage business for some 30 years, told THE STAR that scammers have been devising crafty tricks to fleece taxi operators out of their money. And he is urging operators to band together to prevent the occurrences.
He explained that one of the popular scams hackney taxi operators face is one in which passengers ask drivers to loan them money to pay for a service until they return home, then they make off with the money.
"I have an experience where one of my drivers picked up a lady from UWI. He took her to the airport, and the lady came back and said she's clearing something in customs so he should lend her $6,000. He lent her the money and up to this day him don't see back the lady," Whyte shared.
In other instances, the unscrupulous passengers ask drivers to take them around to multiple locations to conduct business, then they find crafty ways to flee at their destination point without paying the driver for the services.
He noted that it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint the scammers because they come in all shapes and forms. "You have to be careful. I don't want people to think it's only ghetto people who do these things. Uptown people do it too," Whyte warned, as he shared an ordeal involving on of his drivers.
"A uptown man did take one of my drivers up Norbrook. The driver take him and his girlfriend to Hellshire. They were over there for the whole day. Them swim and eat fish, and even offer the driver some. And at the end of the day, he borrowed $5,000 from the driver to help pay for the fish, and when the driver drop them in Manor Park, the two a them disappear," he explained.
Willard Costley, president of the Jamaica Hackney Carriage Association, said he knows of similar instances happening as far back as the 1970s. He also admitted that he also fell victim to a similar scam. "There's hardly anything you can do, you just have to be proactive and hope it doesn't happen to you. It's a part of the trade, we have to live with," he said.
President of the National Council of Taxi Associations, Dion Chance, confirmed that taxi operators have been plagued by such scams for years, particularly the ones in which people flee at their destination without paying their fares. "It's difficult to give advice on something like that. They just have to try to be extra careful and take any precaution that they might deem necessary," Chance said.
Whyte believes he has found the formula to combat the scammers, and he encouraged other companies to follow suit.
"I sit down with my new drivers and I tell them every tricks and trade in the business, just to get them ready. We try to work as a team in my company, help each other, and encourage each other," he advised.