Taxi driver ripped off customers in €9 fare top-up swindle
A taxi driver ripped off passengers 280 times by secretly using a remote control to add €9 to fares without their knowledge, a court has heard.
Dublin District Court heard yesterday that the scam unravelled when a tip-off led to one driver, followed by a recall of 206 other taximeters with which the remote device was compatible.
Judge Anthony Halpin said the amount of over-charging could have been "colossal".
Robert Griffin (66) of Maplewood Park, Springfield in Tallaght, was fined €750 after he pleaded guilty to 280 counts of over-charging contrary to the Taxi Regulation Act.
He was accused of using a concealed remote control device 20 times a week from February 4 until May 10 this year.
He was prosecuted following an investigation by the National Transport Authority (NTA) which discovered he covertly topped up the final fare on the taximeters.
NTA inspector Liam Kavanagh told Judge Anthony Halpin that earlier this year he received information that a number of taxis were over-charging passengers using the remote device which was linked to some meters.
A confidential source led him to a taxi rank at Tallaght hospital where the defendant was sitting in his car, he said.
Mr Kavanagh told the court he carried out a routine inspection and found the remote control device in the driver's door.
"He admitted he had used the remote control to add extras to taxi fares," the inspector said.
He was "visibly shaken" and told the NTA official he was not well.
"The scam, for want of a better word, was closed down," Mr Kavanagh said.
As a result of specific information, Griffin had been targeted but his co-operation was "key" to the success of the operation, the court was told.
Not all of the recalled meters were linked to criminal offences but, the inspector added, they were all, "sensitive to this device". Griffin had no prior convictions.
Fining him €750, Judge Halpin noted Griffin's early guilty plea and he accepted these proceedings gave rise to some of his health problems. He has six months to pay the fine.