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Taxi riders to be reimbursed for $8M in overcharges

City officials are trying to figure out how to reimburse thousands of taxi passengers who officials said paid more than $8 million in overcharges by cabdrivers.

But the logistics of working out a repayment plan for the passengers who were ripped off by an estimated 35,000 drivers isn't a simple task, officials acknowledged.

"We do not have those [plans] worked out yet," Allan Fromberg, a spokesman for the Taxi & Limousine Commission, said Monday.

The commission has said that passengers were overcharged on 1.8 million trips that were improperly billed at higher out-of-town rates on the taxi meters. In his radio address last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that the TLC uncovered the overcharges through the use of GPS technology.

The city has about 48,300 licensed cabbies, and data show that over 35,000 have illegally charged a rider at least once, with a smaller group of drivers responsible for most of the overcharges, according to city officials.

Diane Struzzi, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Investigation, said the matter had been referred to the agency and that a criminal investigation was under way. The probe will focus on the most egregious offenders, Struzzi said.

Drivers reportedly created the overcharges by using a suburban rate code instead of the appropriate city code for trips made within the five boroughs. The practice effectively doubled the fare charged.

Any reimbursement plan would presumably require some way for officials to verify that the passenger submitting the request in fact was overcharged.

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