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Scamming London pedicab driver charged women £180 for three MINUTE 500 yard trip

'Silver fox' Facebook scammer duped mum-of-two out of £80,000

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The incident happened in the heart of the capital’s West End where pedicab drivers are a common sight, with some elaborate examples offering flashing lights and disco music as they coast along London’s boulevards. The two women involved in the incident were in the city as tourists and had flagged down the driver to take them from Gerrard Place in China Town to the Garrick Theatre located on Charing Cross Road.

According to Google Maps, had the pair decided to walk, the journey would have taken a mere 5 minutes.

The tourists agreed to a fee of £18 for the short trip, but upon arriving and paying the peddler added an extra zero on the payment machine, bringing the total to a staggering £180.

After realising they had been scammed, the pair approached a group of local council enforcement officers and police in an attempt to get their money back.

Fortunately for the pair, they had taken a few photos of the trip as a souvenir and captured the driver in the snaps.

The officers recognised the driver from the pictures and were able to catch up with him shortly after the incident.

The driver was ordered to pay back the difference to the two women, who were originally from the midlands.

Multiple voices of concern have risen in recent times over the exploitation of vulnerable and unaware tourists being scammed by the trikes, which many people see as a nuisance on the streets of London.

The highly modified and often elaborate vehicles are still treated in the same way as a horse and carriage under Section 4 of the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869 and therefore do not require regulation, although efforts are being made to bring in a new law to crack down on them.

At the time of the incident, the local council had been carrying out an operation to crack down on the unlicensed pedicabs.

The operation covered much of the West End including Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Soho, Chinatown, Mayfair, and Oxford Street as far as Marble Arch.

Nine riders were reported under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 for playing loud music “likely to be an annoyance”, with cases prepared for possible prosecution.

The council added a further four riders were seen with speakers, but the noise was considered not loud enough to be an annoyance.

They also issued two written warnings to riders under the Antisocial Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 for blocking a public footway and playing music past 9 pm.

Some 70 other pedicabs were moved on for blocking the pavement throughout the night.

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Heather Acton, Westminster City Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Regeneration, said: “Pedicab operators are an unlicensed nuisance that has plagued the West End for years, preying on tourists and annoying local residents.

“There is little regulation around them and they are uninsured – there are serious safety concerns around them.

“As with Saturday night’s operation the council works with the police when criminality is involved, but there are limitations on our powers.

“With the West End beginning to recover from 18 months of restrictions and disruption, it’s time for the government to act and ensure pedicab drivers undergo safety checks and pay road tax.

“Residents deserve a respite from the noise and our visitors should be safeguarded from vulnerable vehicles, sharp practice and scams.”

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Last month Ms Acton also revealed she had witnessed a driver trying to charge people £100 for a seven-minute ride from Selfridges to Edgware Road.

Local Conservative MP Nickie Aiken also said she had heard a group of tourists were charged £380 to travel from Leicester Square to Streatham Street – which would have cost £7 in an Uber.

A proposed law which has the Government’s support is being considered to place pedicabs under a similar level of regulation as taxis and private hire vehicles, so Transport for London can regulate the charges and set a safe standard for the vehicles.

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