New York’s good Samaritan taxi drivers reacted with fury yesterday at news that thousands of fellow medallion holders have scammed passengers out of millions.
The city’s honest cabbies – who have returned diamonds, violins, cell phones and even bundles of cash to grateful passengers – heaped scorn on the deceitful drivers who overcharged nearly 2 million customers by changing their meter to a more expensive rate.
“I feel very ashamed [of cheating drivers],” said Osman Chowdhury, who returned a bag full of diamond rings worth $500,000 to its owner in 2007.
“When you’re driving, people now look at you and think you’re going to do something bad,” he added. “The bad thing becomes the issue, and then the good things drivers do are forgotten.”
“I’m really angry. I’m not happy,” said Douglas Guldeniz, who made headlines in 2007 when he agreed to drive retired couple Bob and Betty Matas across the country to their new Arizona home.
“I really don’t understand those people – if they wanted the double fare, why not work the extra hours?”
Guldeniz said he’s worried riders will get the wrong impression of hacks, saying, “I don’t want all passengers to think taxi drivers are really hungry for money.”
A Taxi and Limousine Commission probe found that nearly 36,000 New York yellow cab drivers – roughly 75% – overcharged passengers by a massive $8.3 million in the last 26 months.
At least 3,000 of those hacks were repeat offenders – switching their meter to a higher out-of-town rate more than 100 times. The Department of Investigation is looking into the swindle and expects to bring criminal charges against some of the cabbies.