At least one fake taxi has been prowling New York City streets, skimming and stealing credit cards. And while you think that you, the eagle-eyed observer, would never be caught dead in a blatantly fake taxi, you’re wrong. Because this fake taxi was damn near a perfect replica of the real deal.
In fact, so few minor details were off, and it would take a super-keen witness to even realize something was wrong. A super-keen witness like redditor nyccabscam, according to CBS News (via Animal NY):
“He showed me what seemed to be a new machine that was connected to the system that I had to swipe that was in the front of the cab,” the man said. “I assumed that it hadn’t been installed yet.”
The man gave his credit card to the cabbie because the machine in the back seat was not working.
“He swiped my card, and then I heard another swipe from the front seat, and I looked forward and I saw a second card machine on the passenger seat in the cab — and it was not connected to another other device,” he said.
The man thinks the second machine was a card skimmer to steal all of his information. At that point, he began taking pictures on his cellphone.
At that point, nyccabscam got out of the car, and started taking pictures. You’ll notice the first picture at the top, and everything looks pretty legitimate. It’s the right shade of yellow, there’s one of those amber emergency lights in case the drivers gets into trouble, even the license plate says “TAXI” on it.
But it’s not an official New York City taxi license plate. An official NYC taxi plate looks like this:
Four characters only, matching the number of the cab, often with a little subscript letter at the end. But if you’re in a hurry, you might not notice that. Just as well, the numbers on top of the cab didn’t match the fake taxi’s license plate, and they were in a different font than normal on the fake cab:
Which you can compare with a legitimate taxi roof ornament here:
The fake cab didn’t have a medallion on the hood, either, but it’s often barely noticeable when you’re in a rush to get somewhere.
And it’s not the first time this scam has been pulled, either, according to the CBS report. This particular car was likely a retired cab bought at auction, and as the city Taxi and Limousine Commission told CBS, has been used for scamming before. It was previously seized in both 2006, and 2007. It’s unclear yet why it’s taken so long for it to have been caught this time, though hopefully it’s not because no one noticed until now.
Credit card readers in cabs have been a bit of a godsend, allowing you to go for a ride when it’s late and you don’t have any hard currency, so I’m not going to jump on the baseless “shoulda used cash!” argument bandwagon.
But damn, if that isn’t the scariest cab in New York City.
H/t to AnimalNY and Richard Blakely!