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Crime

Hong Kong taxi driver arrested for overcharging by undercover policemen posing as Halloween revellers

  • Cabby had charged the pair HK$100 for a HK$30 taxi fare
  • He was one of two drivers arrested early Thursday morning during a police operation targeting taxi driver fraud
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 November, 2018, 3:42pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 November, 2018, 10:30pm

Two undercover policemen wearing Halloween costumes and posing as revellers in Hong Kong arrested a taxi driver for overcharging them in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The driver allegedly charged them HK$100 (US$13) for a HK$30 taxi trip starting near the city’s nightlife district Lan Kwai Fong. He was arrested for overcharging and failing to activate the meter, after accepting marked money as fare from the officers upon arrival at the destination in Sheung Wan.

The 58-year-old man was one of two taxi drivers arrested in separate undercover police operations targeting unscrupulous taxi drivers in Central in the space of an hour on Thursday.

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The two officers dressed as Halloween partiers boarded the taxi at the rank on Lower Albert Road, Central at about 1.30am.

According to police, the wife of the taxi driver was in the front passenger seat at the time.

“The officers were charged HK$100 for the trip. The fare was about three times the usual amount for such a journey that would normally cost between HK$30 and HK$40,” a police source said.

The officers took the cab to Ibis Hotel on Des Voeux Road West in Sheung Wan.

After reaching the destination and paying the fare outside the hotel, officers declared their police identity and arrested the cabby.

The taxi driver was later released on bail pending further investigation. Officers from Central police station are handling the case.

In a separate case, another driver, 48, was also caught red-handed after he charged two other undercover officers HK$300 for a HK$30 journey from Central to Wan Chai. The two agents were posing as mainland tourists.

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Their ride started from Lower Albert Road, Central soon after 12.30am. When they reached Harbourview Hotel on Harbour Road, Wan Chai, the pair were charged HK$300.

The taxi driver was arrested after he collected the fare. He was also granted bail. Officers from the Hong Kong Island traffic unit are handling the case.

The force said police would continue to carry out enforcement action to fight against unscrupulous taxi drivers across the city.

“While encountering such illegal activities, members of the public should note the time, location, taxi registration number and name of the taxi driver and then lodge complaints to police,” a police spokesman said.

Hong Kong taxi drivers deserve sympathy, not condemnation

Under Hong Kong law, overcharging carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a HK$10,000 fine.

Figures from the Transport Complaints Unit show there were 2,699 complaints of taxi driver malpractice in the second quarter of this year, a 13 per cent rise, compared with 2,388 in the previous quarter.

The complaints included overcharging, refusing fares and driving behaviour.