The $800,000 Cab Ride

A Hong Kong businessman took a 13 mile car service ride to New York City that wound up costing him almost $800,000.

The guy paid with his AmEx and the driver who took him from New Jersey where his private jet landed used the card number over the next few months in an extended spending spree. The fraudulent charges, which were sometimes as much as $19,000 in one month, went unnoticed until one of the bank’s fraud specialists noticed the suspicious activity. Because he is just that rich.

This is why you should always check your monthly credit card statements for unknown charges, even if you think you’re fly like a G6.

Cabby ‘swipes’ $800G off AmEx of Hong Kong tycoon facing own legal troubles [New York Post]

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  1. GMFish says:

    This is why you should always… pay your cabbie with cash.

    • Murph1908 says:

      You could say that about every service employee. Do you also pay your restaurant tabs with cash? The Jiffy Lube?

      In Philly, the cabbie never gets your card, I believe. There’s a card swiper in the back seat for the passenger to use.

    • Nighthawke says:

      Some cabbies claim that their readers are broken, forcing the riders to either hand their cards over to be swiped with a scanner, or pay cash.

      • TheWillow says:

        In some places that’s illegal- if the card machine isn’t working the driver isn’t allowed to be operating the cab.

    • sonneillon says:

      When I was in New Orleans all the cabs were cash only. And several other places for that matter. I had an easier time paying credit in Mexico.

  2. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    Now that is one pricey limo service.

  3. hypochondriac says:

    The business man was arrested a month later because he allegedly forged a will. I find that hilarious

  4. AllanG54 says:

    I suspect that someone was laundering money as well as stealing since many of the people who drive car service are not native Americans.

    • YOXIM says:

      Most people in the United States are not Native Americans : )

      • dragonfire81 says:

        Hahahaha!

        You win the most truthful comment of the day award! Well done sir.

      • dcarrington01 says:

        I was born in America, so that makes me a Native American…….

        • The cake is a lie! says:

          I have a friend who is whiter than me and has a british accent. He is from Johannesburg, South Africa. He puts African American on applications and always gets funny looks. lol I used to tell people I was from South America. It was true too. South Texas. lol

          • kmw2 says:

            If he’s from Joburg, he has a South African (Afrikaaner) accent, which is _not_ a British accent

            • coren says:

              He could have a southern United States accent and still be from South Africa.

              • jesirose says:

                Yes, but you wouldn’t call a southern US accent a “canadian” accent. A british accent is not the same as an African one. Just because they sound similar doesn’t make them the same.

                My BF is technically from New Zealand, and claims to have an accent. A Californian accent.

      • dangermike says:

        Seriously. I have the funniest mental image of a cabbie in a head dress. “How. I am Sits On Beads. Where may my iron buffalo take you today?”

        • chaquesuivant says:

          Driver. Take me to the YMCA. The Fun One. I wish to stay there with all of the boys. Will your friends the cop, biker and construction worker be there too? When does _your_ shift end? Buy you a drink?

    • kerrington.steele says:

      also, because all “native” Americas are completely honest and un-thief-y, and all immigrants are pretty much criminals right out of the womb. especially in New Jersey.

      • The cake is a lie! says:

        … yup. Pretty much. But I’m sure the cabbie was a natural born citizen. Peter Rahhaoui probably eats apple pie and flies the stars and stripes with the pride only a US citizen can have.

        Seriously though, while I disagree with the stereotype that all immigrants are dishonest, if you have been in a cab lately you would realize that a disproportionate amount of the drivers are not native to this country, nor have they been residents here for very long. It seems to be the one job you can have when you have a limited understanding of the English language as long as you know your way around town. Pretty soon they’ll just totally separate the driver from the passengers and just have them enter their destinations on computers in the back which relay them to the GPS in the front. I honestly don’t know why they aren’t doing that already…

  5. JollyJumjuck says:

    And here I’ve been taught that the rich become/stay rich because they are careful with their money. Oh wait, this guy made his money by bilking his now-deceased lover out of over a billion pounds for feng shui. I really don’t feel bad when douchebag con men get taken for a ride in turn. He deserved to lose that money, and probably more.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Seriously, my boyfriend’s boss is rolling in it and he would MOST DEFINITELY notice if someone was spending that kind of cash and it wasn’t him.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Seriously, my boyfriend’s boss is rolling in it and he would MOST DEFINITELY notice if someone was spending that kind of cash and it wasn’t him.

    • Ichabod says:

      Karma ran over his dogma,(sorry couldn’t resist).

  6. The cake is a lie! says:

    That is how some of the best credit card scams work. They steal your card and use it at normal places that you wouldn’t recognize on your statement. If the guy paid with a black card then it was probably fairly certain that he wasn’t going to notice a couple grand here or there. It was worth taking the chance in the mind of a credit card thief and it clearly paid off for him.

    It is surprising that AMEX didn’t catch it sooner than that, though. When the guy went back to Hong Kong and the card was still in use in NYC, that should have threw up some red flags. I worked for AMEX for several years and it is the kind of thing we look for.

    • theblackdog says:

      I would guess that either the guy had a standing order with AmEx that he travels a lot for business, or he had been flying back and forth between NYC and Hong Kong enough times that they didn’t see a pattern of abuse.

      • The cake is a lie! says:

        Well, since the majority of things I order online are coming out of Hong Kong anyway, that also may be a reason the scam wasn’t caught. ;) I think your suggestion is probable though.

  7. Buckus says:

    I was misled. The title leads me to believe that the ride itself was somehow $800,000, maybe because the cabbie covers you in gold leaf like those alleged “Most expensive” hamburgers that are not much more than a Diner burger with gold leaf on top (/disgusted by this claim of most expensive. GOLD IS NOT FOOD people).

    Really he was just a victim of CC fraud. Title is misleading if you ask me. But you didn’t.

    • ceriphim says:

      Agreed. Took me a minute after RTFA to figure out it wasn’t the cab ride that cost $800,000. Like you would think. From the title of the article. Headline fail.

    • The cake is a lie! says:

      Ben and Phil must be spending too much time together. Phil is rubbing off…

    • The cake is a lie! says:

      By the way… the article’s title is following the legal ‘but for’ principle. If he hadn’t gotten in that cab and paid with his credit card, then the charges wouldn’t have happened. If the result of all of this was total financial ruin, you can bet that his lawyer would trace all of the events which built up to that back to whoever has the deepest pockets. If not the cabbie then it would be the guy at the airport who pointed out the cab. If not him then the private hangar who let such shady cab drivers drive through. It would go all the way back to the person who introduced the rich prick’s parents or the condom company who had defective products. ‘But For’ is a fun thing to research.

      By the way… what was a rich dude like that getting picked up by a taxi for? Why no limo?

      • I wumbo. You wumbo. He- she- me... wumbo. Wumbo; Wumboing; We'll have thee wumbo; Wumborama; Wumbology; the study of Wumbo. says:

        Well, it reminds me of the $300 Lollipop; A farily inexpensive item is essentially hiked up because you overdrafted or your bank has a “Purchasing Lollipops” clause or something. I thought that maybe there was a law suit involved with this cab ride and his expenses would equal $800,000. While the title may be misleading, I think “The Cab Ride That Costed $800,000 Because The Cabbie Abused The Customer’s Credit Card” is a bit much. I just think it leaves more to the imagination.

      • ChristopherDavis says:

        TFA says it was a car service (IOW, limo) but I suppose “Cabby” was more interesting for the NY “Headless Body Found in Topless Bar” Post’s headline writers.

  8. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    And here I am, getting stressed when I see my wife has visited starbucks and bought coffee AND a pastry in the bank account history.

  9. Geosama says:

    really? did you have to end it with “fly like a G6″?

  10. Blueskylaw says:

    “until one of the bank’s fraud specialists noticed the suspicious activity.”

    It seems that banks only want to protect the wealthy. Where is the banks fraud specialist when my credit card gets charged for ringtones I didn’t order, card cramming, and other assorted garbage charges that people somehow managed to put on a card that I didn’t give them the number to. Of course when the card company gets a piece of the action, they have less/no incentive to notify you.

    Moral Hazard lives on.

    • Peggee is deeply offended by impetulant, pernicious little snots disrespecting her and violating her personal space at Best Buy. says:

      It took them months to figure this $800,000 debacle out, and you think they care about ringtones etc? Do you want them to just deny every purchase in case it happens to be fraudulent? So you can come here and whine that your credit card company won’t let you use your credit card?

    • The cake is a lie! says:

      That is because your spending isn’t outside your normal patterns. If you only use your card to pay bills online for 5 years and then one day a number of charges at brick & mortar stores shows up, then your bank will likely freeze the card and call you to find out what is going on. If you are buying ringtones and stuff online anyway, then there isn’t anything there to set off any alarms.

      And don’t think for a second that some sharp analyst caught this error. The computer caught it and an agent in the fraud department was just the next available agent when it came up in the queue. Nobody at American Express is reviewing accounts by hand. Trust me on that one…

  11. kenj0418 says:

    Well, Hong Kong to NYC is a really long drive.

  12. tinmanx says:

    Why are these “businessmen” so rich? And how can I become one?

  13. The cake is a lie! says:

    Ok, after reading the article further, I have questions. It says the money went into Peter Rahhaoui’s account, and yet he is pleading Not Guilty. Eh??? How the hell does he think that is going to play out? He has $300,000 in unexplained money in his bank account on a taxi cab driver wage and he thinks he can defend it? Curiouser and curiouser…

    I’m also wondering why this would have to go to a jury. If the funds were extracted from the American Express card and deposited into a bank account, it would just clearly look like fraud to me. Now, if he was using the card to buy crap and then sold it, then that is another story. The article leaves out a lot of information. I’d love to read the court transcript after the trial is over, that’s for sure.

  14. sam08 says:

    That is one expensive cab ride. There are really some people who would take advantage of anyone given the slightest chance. So better be always cautious.