US & Canada

NY cab driver fined for 'price gouging' Canada asylum seekers

New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Eric Schneiderman acted on reports of price gouging by taxi companies

A New York State cab driver has been fined $2,500 (£1,930; C$3,400) for overcharging asylum seekers for rides to the Canada-US border.

The state's attorney general said he launched a probe after hearing reports cabs were scamming migrants.

Northern Taxi's owner Christopher Crowningshield was caught in a subsequent sting operation.

He later admitted to regularly charging four to six times the normal price for fares heading to the border.

"Unfortunately, frightened and desperate people are the number one target of scammers," Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement on Wednesday.

A growing number of asylum seekers have been illegally crossing into Canada in recent months, mainly into Manitoba, Quebec and British Columbia.

In the first three months of 2017, some 1,860 refugee claimants were intercepted by Canadian law enforcement after making their way into Canada from the US.

Mr Schneiderman said he had been hearing "troubling" reports of Plattsburgh-area cabbies overcharging migrants heading to the border, which is a roughly 40-minute journey along Interstate 87 from the New York town.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Between January and March, 1,321 people were caught crossing illegally into Quebec

He sent an investigator to look into those reports.

She hailed a cab - Mr Crowningshield's - at the Plattsburgh bus depot and handed the driver a note asking to be taken to a specific point where people can walk across the border into the Canadian province of Quebec.

Mr Crowningshield agreed to the ride, but refused to answer the investigator's repeated questions about fares.

He only told her the trip would cost $200 well into the journey.

He later admitted that he sometimes charged up to $300 for the trip.

Mr Crowningshield has been ordered to pay the fines and penalties, to prominently post rates in his taxi, and to quote clients the fares in advance.

He also cannot charge more than $77.50 for trips from Plattsburg to the border.

Two other cab companies - C&L Taxi and Town Taxi and Medical Transport - were also fined for failing to properly post rates.

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