Officials in Cancun have warned residents and visitors about an alarming new phenomenon: fake taxis. This practice involves criminals who attempt to disguise privately-owned vehicles as real taxis, after which they can carry out all sorts of crimes. Whilst only representing a small fraction of all taxi-related crimes, authorities are concerned the issue may get out of hand, potentially putting lives in danger.
Even though taxis are generally safe in Cancun, complaints over malpractice and scams have skyrocketed this year, as authorities attempt to take stronger action. The most recent issue of fake taxis involves the use of private vehicles disguised as taxis for the purpose of carrying out crimes. From petty crimes like overcharging and pickpocketing to more serious crimes, fake taxis offer criminals a means to escape police oversight.
Fake taxis can be especially troublesome for law enforcement as well as victims because they can be hard to distinguish from real taxis. That’s why authorities are trying to raise awareness among visitors about the steps they can take to identify a legitimate taxi operator. However, some ‘pirate taxis’ even use real license plates and registration numbers belonging to real taxi drivers, effectively making it nearly impossible to identify a fake taxi.
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According to police sources, nearly anyone that owns a car can transform their vehicle into a fake taxi. The process, they say, takes less than an hour, and all that’s required is a good paint job, a license plate, and fake identification. However, scammers will find it increasingly difficult to cheat people, as police begin stepping up anti-fraud measures.
Over the coming months, the local taxi syndicate and authorities will conduct surprise inspections in various locations around Cancun to identify fake taxi drivers. The operation will be carried out with the help of the Secretary for Public Security, which is expected to limit the number of scammers on the streets.
The issue of ‘clone taxis’ has been raised multiple times recently, and now, the Andrés Quintana Roo taxi syndicate is taking matters into its own hands, issuing recommendations on how to spot fake taxis.
“These vehicles do not belong to our taxi association, and they use them to rob people. We will take measures, and we’ll request that authorities do the same, in order to find a solution to the issue of pirate taxis,” the spokesperson said. Some taxi drivers that get fired or quit their job will continue to operate on an expired taxi license, which is another unrelated but similar issue that authorities want to tackle.
How To Safely Use Taxis In Cancun
Taking a taxi in Cancun can be quick, easy, and cheap. There are some important safety-related tips to keep in mind, however. According to the local taxi union, the most important thing visitors can do to prevent falling victim to a fake taxi is to verify that the driver has a valid ID card. Before getting in a taxi, ask for a taxi license with a valid QR code on it. If the driver refuses to show it, do not get in the taxi, and report the driver to the police.
If the taxi is operating under a real license, make sure the driver has correctly turned on the taximeter and that it is clearly visible when the ride begins. In case your taxi driver overcharges you, you can report the incident to the local union through the following numbers, which operate around the clock.
Travelers are also urged to pre-book private transfers to and from their resort or to use ride-sharing apps like Uber to conveniently and safely move around Cancun.
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