TORONTO – As tens of thousands of passengers make plans to head to Pearson International Airport during the holiday season, police and airport officials are warning travelers to beware of "scoopers."
The Greater Toronto Airport Authority and Peel Regional Police have been cracking down recently on a long-term problem, but travelers are still being duped by the unlicensed, uninsured limousine drivers who target them in a long taxi line or by walking out of baggage collection.
Pindie Dhaliwal said she was snared after an exhausting five-hour business flight from Vancouver.
"It was snowing, so the planes were circling for 10 minutes. Everyone was arriving at the same time so it was impossible to get a cab. The line stretched into the airport corridor."
While waiting in line, Dhaliwal, 26, was approached by a scooper. She refused initially, but a Yukon couple behind her was in a rush to get to a dinner party and they agreed to split the $50 fare.
"Maybe I should have known when he led us into a parking garage, but when he dropped us off, he told us it was $50 each," said the project analyst.
"I argued with him saying he can't do that, but he argued back and then tried to make me feel bad, saying how is he going to feed his kids," Dhaliwal said.
She gave up after the Yukon couple reluctantly conceded to the payment.
"I was just so tired and annoyed at that point. Luckily, my company was paying for it, but if it was out of my pocket, I would've fought harder," she said.
In October, Peel Police sent undercover officers to patrol the terminals, estimating about 20 scoopers are trying to steal business from up to 500 licensed drivers, while airport traffic unit officers have been staging "sting" operations. It was not known how many have been ticketed.
"They usually work in groups," said Casey Jason, chairman of the Ontario Limousine Owners Association. "They often target people coming off international flights. One person solicits and the other drives. They also collaborate with other drivers if it's a bigger group. As soon as you agree to the ride, they call the driver to pick you up.
Source: Toronto Sun