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(This May 10 story corrects headline and paragraph one to show that not all of the accused paid fines for price gouging, corrects paragraph two to clarify allegations of price gouging)
By Melissa Fares
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Three Plattsburgh, New York, taxi cab companies will pay financial penalties for taking advantage of illegal immigrants fleeing the United States for Canada, the New York Attorney General's office said on Wednesday.
It said in a statement the fines came as part of a settlement after the three companies, Northern Taxi, Town Taxi and C & L Taxi, "admitted to not posting rates as required by law." A driver from Northern Taxi was also accused of charging an undercover investigator $300 for a fare that should cost no more than $77.50. The same investigator was charged $100 by a C & L Taxi driver, while a Town Taxi driver charged $85, the attorney general said in a statement.
Illegal crossings from the United States into Canada have become increasingly common in the months since U.S. President Donald Trump, who campaigned on a pledge to crack down on undocumented immigrants, took office in January.
“It’s no secret that we’ve seen intense fear in immigrant communities across New York in recent months. To take advantage of that fear for financial gain is simply unconscionable,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in the statement.
“My office won’t hesitate to crack down on those seeking to take advantage of this climate of fear.”
As part of the settlement, the Plattsburgh companies will pay penalties ranging from $350 to $2,500.
Northern Taxi did not immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment. The owner of C&L Taxi said she was not aware of the allegations. The operator of Town Taxi told Reuters they had not publicized fares.
On Wednesday, Reuters published a report about asylum seekers traveling to the Canadian border, based in part on an interview with C&L Taxi driver Curtis Seymour.
Seymour voted for Trump partly because of his immigration policies, but said he had grown increasingly sympathetic to his immigrant passengers.
Reporting by Melissa Fares in New York; Editing by Tom Brown