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New York - 'Swipers' Get Outbound Travelers Metrocards at JFK, Then Resell Swipes For Less Than Regular Fare

Published on: August 16, 2010 10:20 AM
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New York - Metrocard. Don’t go home with it.

That’s the pitch subway hustlers are making to tourists on their way to John F. Kennedy Airport and their flights back home.

“What are the tourists going to do with them?” explained one of the men, showing off a handful of MetroCards he had scored. “Throw them in the garbage? I can hustle and make a buck.”

The fast-talkers collect MetroCards at two eastern Queens transit hubs that connect the subway system to the airport-bound AirTrain: Sutphin Blvd./Archer Ave. in Jamaica and Howard Beach.

With the still-valid MetroCards in hand, the so-called “swipers” then sell other straphangers entry into the subway system for less than the $2.25 fare.

Undercover police periodically make arrests for swipe-selling, but most get off with a slap on the wrist.

“If I got arrested, I’d be out the next morning,” said the hustler who spoke to the Daily News.

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The swindler - who called himself “J” - said he couldn’t find legitimate work. But he can make between $30 to $80 a day selling swipes, he said.

“It keeps me full,” he said.

One transit worker said some of the hustlers can be intimidating, if not menacing, to tourists laded down with baggage.

A few out-of-town travelers, easily identifiable as they wheeled their luggage through the hub, said they weren’t fazed by being asked for their leftover MetroCards.

“At first it was uncomfortable for me, but then I thought someone was asking me for help and I should stop,” said Masha Nebritova, 28, of Manhattan.

Nebritova, a photographer, kept her MetroCard. She’s only going for a visit with relatives in Russia and will need it later.

William Snoeren, 20, of Holland, and a friend gave up their weekly MetroCards, which were still good for two more days.

“We don’t need it,” Snoeren said. “It’s fine by me.”

The MTA says it could use the revenue it loses when swipers sell trips that otherwise would be paid for.

Citing budget gaps, the MTA has cut service and laid off transit workers, including token booth clerks - who often are the ones to report such swipe-sellers to the police.


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Read Comments (23)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Aug 16, 2010 at 10:35 AM basmelech Says:

I haven't been on the subway since tokens were in use and I don't know anything about metro cards or how to go about getting one. I think I'll stay out of the city or just drive there if I have to be there.

2

 Aug 16, 2010 at 10:53 AM Anonymous Says:

Why is this illegal?

3

 Aug 16, 2010 at 10:54 AM Anonymous Says:

Cool way of making money!

4

 Aug 16, 2010 at 11:19 AM Anonymous Says:

Remember don't steal the government hates competition

5

 Aug 16, 2010 at 11:21 AM Anonymous Says:

To # 2
This is Illegal because the MTA are a bunch of crooks!

6

 Aug 16, 2010 at 11:31 AM BinderDundat Says:

I'm trying to figure how the MTA loses money here. The metrocards are prepaid, they already got the money. Something doesn't smell right.

7

 Aug 16, 2010 at 11:57 AM Facist States of A Says:

why are they getting arrested? Police presumtion to detain people in this country is downright freaky

8

 Aug 16, 2010 at 12:40 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
BinderDundat Says:

I'm trying to figure how the MTA loses money here. The metrocards are prepaid, they already got the money. Something doesn't smell right.

they lose because the people buying them would have otherwise had to purchase their own fare from the MTA..as it says in the article

9

 Aug 16, 2010 at 12:40 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
BinderDundat Says:

I'm trying to figure how the MTA loses money here. The metrocards are prepaid, they already got the money. Something doesn't smell right.

Umm...they lose the money that they would have made from those who the "swipers" sell swipes to. Not usually. Poster, but...yea..

10

 Aug 16, 2010 at 02:00 PM Anonymous Says:

It's just like the muni-meter scam. Once upon a time we New Yorkers would find meters with some time left on them. "Oh boy," we'd say, "look at that, there are 20 minutes left on this meter and I'm only going to be in the store for 10 minutes. It's my lucky day." Then the evil muni-meters came into existence and our lives were made miserable. Now we have to run a block to pay at the muni-meter, run back to our cars and pray a meter maid didn't get to it in the meantime (can't you hear her snickering while she's writing that ticket?), put the receipt in the windshield, and finally go to your destination. And what sticks in your craw is the fact that the lady who just pulled out of the space before you took it had put enough money in for an hour and she only used up 10 minutes of that time. So the city gets double the money for the same period of time at the exact same space. It's illegal for lawyers to double-bill their clients, it should be illegal for the city too.

11

 Aug 16, 2010 at 02:41 PM Jimmy37 Says:

Why is it illegal for someone to sell a paid-for subway ride? It's no different than me selling my prepaid gift card on eBay for less than the face amount. And if I gave my card to my friend, the MTA still loses the fare. This is the stupidest argument.

12

 Aug 16, 2010 at 03:02 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
Anonymous Says:

they lose because the people buying them would have otherwise had to purchase their own fare from the MTA..as it says in the article

who cares what they would have done otherwise. with your logic if someone offers me a coupon for shop rite he shoud be arrested because person would have paid full price had he not met this guy with a coupon

13

 Aug 16, 2010 at 03:30 PM enlightened-yid Says:

I can't afford traveling in the city a lot by subway anymore. I'm forced to break the law and seek out these hustlers to sell me cheaper rides.

14

 Aug 16, 2010 at 04:13 PM Anonymous Says:

To # 13

I'm sure if you'd put a post on craigslist you will get a few responses.

15

 Aug 16, 2010 at 05:39 PM Anonymous Says:

reply to #1:

What did you feel you were adding to the discussion here by your post?

#1 - basmelech Says:
I haven't been on the subway since tokens were in use and I don't know anything about metro cards or how to go about getting one. I think I'll stay out of the city or just drive there if I have to be there.

16

 Aug 16, 2010 at 05:40 PM awacs Says:

Reply to #11  
Jimmy37 Says:

Why is it illegal for someone to sell a paid-for subway ride? It's no different than me selling my prepaid gift card on eBay for less than the face amount. And if I gave my card to my friend, the MTA still loses the fare. This is the stupidest argument.

I think what really irks the MTA (and what's prohibited by the MTA regs) is not reselling pay-per-ride, which - as people pointed out - is not very evil, but reselling rides on unlimited metrocards, which increases unlimited farecard utilization, and games the system.

17

 Aug 16, 2010 at 05:43 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
Jimmy37 Says:

Why is it illegal for someone to sell a paid-for subway ride? It's no different than me selling my prepaid gift card on eBay for less than the face amount. And if I gave my card to my friend, the MTA still loses the fare. This is the stupidest argument.

reply to #6:

What is it you don't understand? The rides are NOT paid for, these are cards sold with unlimited number of rides for the day, week or months. There is not a specific number of rides that were paid for.

Not that I am any fan of the city, but this would be equivalent to paying for a smorgasbord "all you can eat" dinner at a restaurant, walking outside, and sending in a hungry friend in your place pretending to be you to fill himself up as well. Would you not see what's wrong with that?

18

 Aug 16, 2010 at 05:49 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
Anonymous Says:

they lose because the people buying them would have otherwise had to purchase their own fare from the MTA..as it says in the article

in response to their claim that they are loosing money , how about , they should have a system in place that you can be refunded for any un used fares that you already paid for . like this it will be fair on both ends , no one rides without paying & no one pays without riding.

19

 Aug 16, 2010 at 05:49 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #13  
enlightened-yid Says:

I can't afford traveling in the city a lot by subway anymore. I'm forced to break the law and seek out these hustlers to sell me cheaper rides.

reply to #13:

I mean, seriously? You are being FORCED to steal?

It is a big shame that a guy who calls himself an "enlightened yid" claims he is "forced" to steal because he can't afford a two dollar subway fare.

If you can't afford the $2.25, where you have to go is obviously not that important. Unless it's the welfare office you're going to, and they will reimburse you for subway fare.

It is rationalization like this that makes the Charedi community throw rallies and write songs for innocent convicted felons whose only crimes were that they were also "forced" to commit crimes like wire fraud, bank fraud, and perjury.

Way to go! Everyone should congratulate this guy for his ehrlichkeit and staying on the derech with no excuses!

20

 Aug 16, 2010 at 06:03 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #13  
enlightened-yid Says:

I can't afford traveling in the city a lot by subway anymore. I'm forced to break the law and seek out these hustlers to sell me cheaper rides.

reply to #14:

why are you encouraging someone to commit a crime?

21

 Aug 17, 2010 at 12:13 AM Matzoslocal101 Says:

It seems that #18 is the only one who understands the problem. The city is relying on a certain number of paid for metrocards not to be used. When they are used, the money the city thought they could pocket is no longer clear and free profit, it is a ride that they could have sold again. It is very similar to buying a 7 cents a minute phone card. when your balance is 6 cents the card is useless, that times a million cards is $60K. There are people that bought phone cards for trips and college and don't use them. The phone calculates a certain percentage of phone cards are not going to be, or cannot be, used and it free money for them. The city (state?) recently passed a law preventing stores from offering gift cards with expiration dates or not reinmbursing the unused portion of the card. Stores are not allowed to steal but the city can. When you stop the city from stealing by using the total amount on the card, they charge you with a crime. people pay less because the kids hawking the cards got them for free, so they can sell them for less than the full face value, but the bottom line is, the full face value was paid by the original purchaser. The city is losing nothing.

22

 Aug 17, 2010 at 09:01 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #13  
enlightened-yid Says:

I can't afford traveling in the city a lot by subway anymore. I'm forced to break the law and seek out these hustlers to sell me cheaper rides.

reply to #18:

Unfortunately, you, like so many other VIN commenters, give your opinions about things you know nothing about and do not understand.

The conversation here is about UNLIMITED ride metrocards, which can be used by ONE PERSON for an unlimited number of rides for one day/week/month. It does not cost per ride, there are no credits or rides counted to be charged or refunded, the price is the same if you use it once or a thousand times.

By giving it to someone else, you are violating the implicit and explicit contract between you and the MTA that this is for the use of one person. It is not intended for one person to buy an unlimited monthly pass, and then pass it around to his friends and relatives to allow everyone to ride the system for free as much as they want.

What these swipers are doing is grabbing people with time left on their cards and are leaving the country or state and don't need them anymore, and reselling the balance to other people, who would have to buy a card themselves if they didn't get this (illegal) one. They are shortchanging the MTA dishonestly, and every dollar the transit authority falls short (which it always does) will eventually cost YOU!

23

 Aug 17, 2010 at 09:48 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #13  
enlightened-yid Says:

I can't afford traveling in the city a lot by subway anymore. I'm forced to break the law and seek out these hustlers to sell me cheaper rides.

reply to #21#

Hey, Matzoslocal, it seems that only #18 and you DON'T understand the problem!

WHAT face value? they are talking about UNLIMITED RIDE cards for the buyer only. The price is the same whether the buyer uses it once or a thousand times, but only the buyer can use it, and pays a set price for unlimited rides for a day, week, or month.

see comment #22 if you still don't understand..

" Today at 12:13 AM Matzoslocal101 Says:
It seems that #18 is the only one who understands the problem.
but the bottom line is, the full face value was paid by the original purchaser. The city is losing nothing."

24

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