Taxi driver Michael Clark at Liverpool Crown Court
Raymond and Michael Clark were working as part of a wider conspiracy
Dad and son cabbies who fleeced drunken passengers in a “remarkably simple” debit card scam were jailed.
Raymond and Michael Clark were part of a wider con where cab drivers would target vulnerable customers – often visitors to the city – and fleece them of their cash cards and valuables.
They would demand debit cards be handed over to them for payment and while their intoxicated victims waited they switched them with fake cards and passed them back.
Liverpool Crown Court heard how they would note the PIN number being entered and later use those confidential details to withdraw money from cash machines.
The scam also saw people taken to cash machines where a similar con was carried out.
The pair admitted stealing £7,265 between January 2012 and February last year.
Some 27 victims were affected with Raymond found in possession of 19 debit cards upon his arrest.
Judge Mark Brown condemned them both for breaching the trust of their customers through the “remarkable simple and straightforward” ruse.
He told them: “You were working as licensed hackney taxi drivers in the city centre. As such, you owed a duty of care to your passengers. But you targeted individuals who were very drunk and stole their bank cards, mobile phones and money.
“Many of the passengers were visitors to Liverpool and were unfamiliar with the area. You have not only tarnished the reputation of taxi drivers but have also affected the reputation of the city.
“This city enjoys a fine reputation. When visitors come to the city and are treated in this disgraceful fashion it is bound to have an effect on the reputation the city enjoys.
“Your victims were vulnerable individuals who were relying on you, relying on your integrity and honesty.”
The court heard how one victim was left “embarrassed” after being fleeced of all his money while on a stag weekend in Liverpool.
Another victims, who lost £1,300 in assets including a mobile phone that was stolen, spoke in depth of the lasting impact of the crime.
In a statement, he said: “I no longer trust taxi drivers and have not used black cabs for two years.
“The impact has resulted in an entire lifestyle change. My faith in human behaviour is at an all-time low.”
Raymond Clark, 61, was said to be more heavily involved than his son, 38, who admitted being involved in three specific incidents.
The court heard they were working as part of a wider conspiracy.
Simon Driver, defending, Raymond Clark, said he was not the architect of the scam and was remorseful.
He told the court: “He is a man who has showed great kindness to others over the years and is held in high regard in his social circle.”
Jeremy Hawthorne, defending Michael Clark, said financial pressures and drug use led to his involvement.
He said his client had worked to a high-standard as a taxi driver over many years.
Raymond Clark, of Stormont Road, Garston, admitted conspiracy to steal and two charges of having counterfeit currency totalling £100. He was jailed for 21 months.
Michael Clark, of Rickman Street, Kirkdale, was jailed for 10 months having pleaded to conspiracy to steal.
Both men can no longer drive taxis.
More than 30 thefts from hackney cabs linked to scam
AN extensive police probe revealed more than 30 thefts from hackney cabs in Liverpool linked to the scam.
Victims were from all around the UK with a Swedish tourist also affected.
Detective Sergeant Jed Ferguson, said: “In 2012 we were made aware of a number of instances of passengers of a black Hackney cab having had their bank card swapped with another person’s bank card. The incidents generally involve victims who have consumed a lot of alcohol and when they have got in the taxi they have asked to stop at a cash machine, or paid by card in the taxi.
”When the victims stopped at the cash machine the taxi driver accompanied them to a cash point and put the card in on their behalf and withdrew the cash, the card was then given back to the victim, and generally it was only the next day that they discovered they had actually been given a card belonging to another person.
“Other frauds took place through the use of a chip and pin machine in the cab, the victim hands over the card to taxi driver and puts the pin in the machine and again when the card is given back it is not the card belonging to that person.
“Throughout these incidents the offenders communicated with each other, via their respective Bluetooth mobile phone headsets, to target individuals, swap stolen debit cards, swap pin numbers and access accounts.
“Our investigation led us to arrest and subsequently charge both Raymond and Michael Clark with these offences.”
DS Ferguson added: “I would also like to take this opportunity to remind people to take care of themselves and their possessions when out socialising.
“One of the most important things to remember is when using your ATM card be aware of your surroundings and look for any suspicious persons or activity near the ATM machine. If you see anything that looks suspicious, go to another machine or return later. Never let anyone else use your card.”