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May 22, 2012

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Illegal 'clone' taxis look real, rob riders

SEVERAL local commuters have been scammed by a taxi company that turned out to be fictional. City taxi watchdogs said they have received three reports of thefts by "Jinhui Taxi," but they suspect there are many more victims.

The scam is not uncommon and is perpetrated by black-market cabs using fake names but appearing similar to legal cabs.

Passengers have been robbed of money, public transportation cards and even cell phones. Officials said they were still looking for the drivers.

"They catch every opportunity they can to pull a scam," said Chen Zhaohui, who is an officials with the city's traffic law enforcement team.

Chen said the illegal cabbies, using "cloned" taxis that look very similar to real ones, usually are difficult to trace and then to seize.

A rider, surnamed Lin, took a Jinhui Taxi trip on May 13 in the Pudong New Area.

Lin's public transportation card was switched as he was paying the fare. Lin's card was loaded with more than 900 yuan (US$142). Another rider, surnamed Gao, also saw her transportation card switched in April on a taxi that used the name Jinhui.

Traffic police estimated there are about 5,000 illegal and cloned taxis on city roads and 50,000 legal ones. Authorities said licensed taxis by year's end will have electronic tags for instant identification.


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