13 Investigates: Fake ride-sharing drivers concern Saratoga Springs Police

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The busiest day at the Saratoga Race Course is the Travers. That’s this Saturday, August 26. However, Saratoga Springs city leaders want to warn you of fake Uber and Lyft drivers.

13 Investigates told you earlier this month that unlicensed drivers were picking up passengers from popular spots around the city. These drivers are usually taking advantage of people who are tired or drunk, and may not check a ride-share app before going into a car.

Now, the I-team went on a ride along with Saratoga Springs Police on a Friday night on Caroline Street – where the lift of the party is at.

There are big crowds in the summertime. Some come from the track, others go out after seeing a concert at SPAC, and college students.

You’ll also see dozens of rideshare drivers and taxis. Drivers will continuously loop around the block until they get a passenger.

“That’s half our job down here, too. There’s no parking or standing down here. They’ll stop and try to wait for their fair and stuff, but we got to keep it moving,” Sgt. Aaron Perkins with the Saratoga Springs Police Department said.

Perkins was in charge that night. He’s worked for the Saratoga Springs Police Department for nine years and recently got promoted to sergeant.

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Perkins – along with several other officers – keeps watch of Caroline St. all night long.

“On busy nights like this and weekends, we’ll park a couple of police units down here to show a presence,” he said. “We’re kind of just monitoring the crowd,”

Perkins said they have at least 12 officers on Friday and Saturday nights on Caroline Street.

Officers have a lot of work to do: crowd control, breaking up fights, keeping people off the street, and making sure people are following open container laws.

Taxis, Uber and Lyft are helpful for officers to make sure people get home safe.

“There’s taxi parking right here. There’s a little bit up on Broadway. There are way more taxis and Ubers than parking spaces for them,” Perkins said.

Saratoga Springs City Council has warned of fake drivers this summer.

Mayor Ron Kim previously told 13Investigates people need to be careful of these drivers who usually wait around popular spots like the racecourse, Siro’s, the Horseshoe Inn Bar & Grill, and Caroline Street.

The difference between the real ones and the fake ones can be subtle.

The fakes usually have a sign on top of the car that says Uber or Lyft, but that’s about it. Even one car had a U/L sign that stood for Uber/Lyft.

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Under Sami’s Law, all rideshare services must adopt systems allowing passengers to verify the car before entering. The law also makes drivers have illuminated signs that must be seen from 50 feet away.

Sami’s Law was created after University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson died in 2019 when a man impersonating her Uber driver murdered her.

The biggest red flag to spot a driver impersonating a rideshare is if they approach you and negotiate a price. Another warning sign is the scammer will always ask for cash only.

Rideshares, like Uber and Lyft, are not licensed by the city of Saratoga Springs.

Rules for taxi cabs differ because Saratoga Springs requires those drivers to have a permit and a New York state driver’s license. Each licensed taxicab will have a maroon medallion next to the license plate. The city can check criminal history, arrest, and driving records through the taxi licensing process.