Cab drivers booked for ripping off foreign tourists
Published : 2013-03-06 21:01
Updated : 2013-03-06 21:01
A total of 20 cab drivers have been booked for investigation on charges of ripping off foreign tourists ― sometimes for hundreds of thousands of won ― at popular tourist districts in Seoul, police said Wednesday.
The suspects, including a 45-year-old driver surnamed Baek, are accused of driving unregistered “call vans” and overcharging the foreign riders up to 10 times more than the normal fare from July to until recently, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.
Police officers said these illegal vans allegedly targeted foreigners in tourist destinations in downtown Seoul such as Myeong-dong, Insa-dong, Namdaemun, or shopping areas near Dongdaemun at night.
Call vans are only allowed to carry passengers with baggage weighing over 20 kilograms, the SMPA said. Drivers may set fares through negotiations with passengers.
However, the suspects allegedly installed bogus meters and manipulated the foreign passengers in order to overcharge them, the officers said.
Baek allegedly picked up two Thai tourists near Seoul Station, and charged nearly 400,000 won ($370) to take them to Incheon International Airport, South Korea’s main gateway west of Seoul, they said.
One of the suspects, a 48-year-old driver surnamed Myeong, is accused of charging a Chinese traveler almost 96,000 won for a ride from Myeong-dong to Dongdaemun, 10 times the normal fare, they added.
The unfair practice of foreign passengers being cheated by cabbies has been cited as a problem that could tarnish the national image as a tourist destination.
As part of efforts to root out such unfair practices, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said last month that it will offer a reward to anyone with information about such taxis.
Also, a total of 390 specialized cabs for foreigners currently operate in the capital city, the city government said. The “international taxis” are equipped with interpretation services in English and Japanese and are run by drivers who have a good command of the languages. (Yonhap News)