Illegal, fake rideshare drivers are potential dangerous problem at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
Illegal activity at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport has been caught by Local 10 News’ hidden cameras.
Its activity that some believe is putting the public in serious danger.
Licensed and legitimate taxicab drivers say what’s going on is costing them big bucks, and Local 10 News saw little to no enforcement at all.
Within seconds of walking out a door at Terminal 1 of FLL, Local 10 News’ Jeff Weinsier was confronted by a woman who said she is an Uber driver.
A man parked behind her in a Kia, she said, was also an Uber driver.
After declining her offer, the woman, along with the man in the Kia, eave their vehicles unattended at the curb.
They actually walked inside the terminal and solicited another arriving passenger.
When a Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy approached, the pair went back to their vehicles and got inside, as if to leave, but once the deputy left, they again exited their cars and went back into the terminal.
What they are doing is illegal, its dangerous and its taking money out of the pockets of legitimate cab drivers who pay hundreds of dollars to be at the airport legally.
Weinsier went up to the woman and asked what she was up to.
“Hey, how are you? Question for you. I’m Jeff Weinsier. I’m an investigative reporter at Channel 10. Are you allowed to be asking people for car rides here?”
“Wait, hold on, let me park my car and I will talk to you,” the woman replied.
She then got in her car and took off, almost hitting another vehicle during her getaway.
As for the man parked behind her in the Kia, he also took off after being confronted by Weinsier, but only after denying that he was doing anything wrong.
Minutes later, Weinsier walked by a red Mazda SUV, and the window started coming down.
“Are you waiting for an Uber?” the man asked.
“I’m waiting for a ride. Are you Uber?” Weinsier replied.
“Yeah, I’m uber,” the driver said. “Where do you wanna go?”
“I’m trying to get to Miami,” Weinsier answered.
“How much are you willing to pay?” the driver asked.
“You are ride share?” Weinsier said. “I’m OK. I have someone coming.”
Later, Weinsier saw a man in a blue shirt working the door, confronting passenger after passenger.
He eventually got an elderly couple to agree.
The man who was soliciting was driving a minivan, and those people got into his car without knowing who he was or the route he was taking and their whereabouts weren’t being tracked, like it would if they booked through the Uber app.
Weinsier watched this go on for hours, with no enforcement, despite a reoccurring overhead announcement that stated, “Unattended vehicles will be promptly ticketed and towed at the owners expense.”
On a second visit, several weeks later, Weinsier walked out the same terminal door, and waiting for him was another person trying to sell a ride, claiming to be an Uber driver.
Sam Saintflorante has been a cab driver for 17 years.
He is licensed and regulated and can wait up to three hours in a lot at FLL before being called to the terminal for a pickup.
“That’s everyday, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said of the fake Uber drivers. “They are always there. They are robbing us.
“Sometimes we work 18 hours. We have a background check. We have to pay for the license. And one day, I hope not, but one day something is going to happen.”
Arnold Myrotil has been a taxi driver for 20 years.
“We always call and complain,” he said.
Arlene Satchell is a spokesperson for the Broward County Aviation Department.
Weinsier asked her how this has been allowed to go on.
“It’s not that it is allowed to go on,” she said. “It is definitely an illegal activity. There is no way for us to control an entire span curbside. We agree it is a safety issue for certain and that is why we are addressing it and have been addressing it.
“We have recently launched a ground transportation enforcement team and their sole responsibility is to walk the curbside, both upper and lower level and other areas, looking for these types of bad actors if you will.
Satchell says the airport is looking to expand their seven member ground transportation enforcement team that she says works in tandem with the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
“The cab drivers say it is not fair, that they complain and it goes on deaf ears. Do you agree with that statement?” Weinsier asked Satchell.
“Absolutely not,” she replied.
Satchell said 42 tickets for solicitation violations were written between June and December of last year. Eight undercover operations have taken place and 21 trespass warnings were issued by BSO. Also, 27 citations were written by the Broward Consumer Protection Division last year for illegal solicitation. She says the public has to their part too.
“There is signage in every terminal that tells people beware of these operators,” she said. “That it is risky behavior. It’s unsafe.”
“I’m just surprised, I was here for several days, for hours on end, and I didn’t see the enforcement you are talking about,” Weinsier said.
“I can’t speak for that specific time beyond the fact I know enforcement is ongoing, Satchell said. “There is room for improvement. That is part of the process of trying to run an airport, to attend to safety issues.
“If they are coming back, they are taking a risk themselves to potentially be arrested.”