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British tourists warned over unlicensed taxi drivers at popular destination



British tourists have been urged to be alert when they arrive at the main airports of one of the most sought-after holiday destinations in Europe.

More and more tourists landing at Porto Airport, in Portugal, are being approached by unlicensed taxi drivers who promise to take them to their destinations for fees lower than the legal competition, according to Portuguese newspaper Jornal de Notícias.

These drivers, a licenced taxi driver has claimed, show tourists a fake metre to lure them into their cars.

The scam, however, becomes apparent to the unaware visitors once they are asked to pay their bill, with the unlicensed drivers asking for much higher fees than those initially presented, the report said.

This situation is detrimental not just to those being scammed but also to regular taxi drivers, as some believe it puts them in a bad light. 

Speaking outside the departure terminal at Porto Airport earlier this week, a frustrated taxi driver said: “There are 20 or 30 people who constantly help each other, they have been helping each other for several years, but it has increased a lot in the last year.

“They show you a fake metre and then, when you get to the centre, they trick you and ask for more money. This is very bad for us.”

Taxi drivers are generally demanding more control around these unlicensed services. However, the frustrated driver believes the Portuguese police, the Public Security Police (PSP), can do little to crack down on this phenomenon, as these scammers “give them false addresses”. 

The PSP itself acknowledged in recent days a spike in people being approached outside of airports by unlicensed drivers.

The police force, who said to believe this is a situation seen “a little in all European airports”, detected last year alone more than 100 unlicensed drivers operating at Porto Airport.

Figures were higher at Lisbon Airport, where some 1000 offences were flagged in 2023, with total fines reaching £850,000 (€1million). 

Authorities in Portugal are urging people to only get on taxis that can be found in the dedicated areas in airports.

Similarly, they said other transport services should be hired only through official platforms, and visitors should be weary of people approaching them outside of air hubs with offers too good to be true. 

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