Ho Chi Minh City police said they are investigating a case in which a taxi driver allegedly attempted to drastically overcharge a Japanese tourist on Friday, according to the VTC News website.
Police in District 3's Ward 7 said on Friday evening that Atshushi Hirako, 54, had taken a taxi from Ben Thanh Market in District 1 to a hotel in District 10 at around 4:45 p.m. that same day. The taxi was marked with a logo designed to make it look like it belonged to the famous Mai Linh taxi company.
The taxi traveled about three kilometers and did not yet reach the passenger's stated destination but the driver, identified as Le Minh Phuong, 35, demanded Hirako to pay VND650,000 (US$31) while the meter only showed VND65,000. Outraged, the Japanese man asked the driver to let him out.
When Hirako stepped out of the cab, Phuong punched him in the face for refusing to pay the money. Hirako at that time also realized that he had left his wallet, glasses and other personal items in the taxi. Local bystanders helped him retrieve his belongings from Phuong, who at first refused to return them.
Phuong then drove away when a police patrol approached the scene.
Police said Phuong works for the 27.7 Tourist Transport Cooperative. Another driver of this firm was fined last June for charging two Spanish tourists VND400,000 for a 1-km trip that usually cost just VND20,000.
A Mai Linh Group official, who was not named by VTC News, said around 1,000 fake taxis are currently operating in HCMC. Many of them are disguised with fake Mai Linh logos and prey on tourists near Ben Thanh Market.
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