MOSCOW -- A Chilean journalist was taken for a very expensive taxi ride during the FIFA Confederations Cup in Moscow.
Diego Saez, a 38-year old journalist from Radio ADN in Chile, was scammed by the driver, who charged him 50,000 rubles -- around $900, or 50 times the typical fare -- for a one-hour ride from the Domodedovo airport in southern Moscow to his hotel in the city centre after arriving from Munich in the early hours of Thursday.
Tired from an overnight journey that stared in Romania, where Chile played their last friendly before the Confederations Cup, Saez says at first he did not calculate the exchange rate when the driver told him the astronomical fare upon arrival. After paying but before exiting the car, he consulted with a Chilean colleague over the phone, who told him a more reasonable rate would be 5,000 rubles, or some $90 -- and even that's very high by Moscow standards.
"I then started arguing with [the driver] to get my money back, but he insisted on the fare,'' Saez said.
The driver dropped his bags in front of the hotel entrance and Saez says he took a picture of the license plate and, with the help of the hotel manager, contacted police. He was interviewed by Russian officials until around 5 a.m., and they called him back on Friday to stop by a local police station, where they had the driver detained. The driver returned all the money, and then some.
"He offered to drive me around for free during the whole tournament, but I refused," Saez said.
The officers also offered Saez a two-man police escort throughout the tournament. He also refused.
Moscow's airports are notorious among locals for taxi scams. Signs warn against accepting rides from the gaggles of drivers who hang around the terminal, accosting new arrivals. Taxi companies and ride-share apps typically offer a journey to the center for around 1,000 rubles ($17).