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Scamming taxi drivers sentenced to jail

FOUR taxi drivers were given sentences from six to 21 months yesterday for coercion and overcharging Japanese passengers.

The Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court ruled Gu Jun, Wu Ronghua, Yang Xuefeng and Yan Huihong were guilty of conducting forced transactions.

The four taxi drivers made 11 Japanese passengers pay high taxi fares in January this year. The highest fee was more than 60 times what it should have been, the court said.

The four taxi drivers were all from Nanhui District and knew each other, though they belonged to different taxi companies. They usually waited at Pudong International Airport or the Longyang Road maglev train station to pick up Japanese passengers.

After luring Japanese passengers into their taxis, drivers took detours for the purpose of higher fares. If the passengers asked to get off mid-way, the driver would still demand a higher fare. If the passengers refused, the driver would refuse to stop the cab or lock the door to prevent the passengers from getting out.

In most cases, two of the defendants would work together to coerce the passengers into paying higher fees.

While one driver was in the front of the cab, another would get into the back and tell the passenger he hated the Japanese because he thought they had invaded China and massacred civilians in Nanjing.

"Japanese passengers were always frightened and had to pay whatever the defendants demanded," said Ao Yingjie, a judge of the court. "The drivers could speak simple English."

The police caught the four drivers in February after receiving complaints from several victims. They said another driver who allegedly overcharged Japanese passengers is still at large.

The court said the four drivers have also damaged the reputation of the taxi service and soiled the city's image.

The court sentenced Gu to 21 months, Wu to 18 months, Yang to 15 months and Yan to six months, with probation of six months. Sentences were determined by how much they had earned illegally.


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