Talk about music piracy.
Uniformed JFK Airport officers forced a teary-eyed, 20-year-old woman to surrender her red iPod Nano as cab fare – or be “taken downtown” – when her credit card was declined, The Post has learned.
Natalie Lenhart, of Sacramento, Calif., said the $140 music player, full of “oldies” by The Beatles and James Taylor, was valued at more than $90 more than the final cab fare, with tip, that she racked up last month.
The driver, Mohammed Islam, said he still has the iPod and wants to give it back in the presence of a Taxi and Limousine Commission official.
“What am I going to do with the iPod? There’s no ear phones!” said Islam, who has been driving for three years.
Islam said he called 911 after Lenhart swiped her credit card 20 times at Kennedy Airport, and Port Authority officers responded. Both passenger and driver said an officer told Lenhart she “had to give the driver some compensation” if she didn’t have the money for the fare, which the cabby recalls being about $49.
The TLC said the driver was innocent of any wrongdoing because the officer “forced the driver to take the iPod as payment,” according to a commission official.
The source also said the issue “was between the driver and the passenger” because a formal complaint wasn’t filed, but said the TLC was open to helping make both parties happy.
“I want to give it back,” Islam said, “and I would like my fare.”
The Port Authority said it was investigating but couldn’t confirm if a PA officer was involved.
“As of now, we have no evidence of any wrongdoing” on the part of the officers, the authority said in a written statement. “However, this is against our policy if it happened as reported, and we will investigate and take appropriate action if it’s found that someone didn’t follow proper procedures.”
Lenhart’s musical debacle occurred on Dec. 8, when she took a cab from the West Village to JFK after visiting a high-school friend who attends Fordham University.
She arrived at about 3 p.m. to catch a 6 p.m. Northwest Airlines flight.
Lenhart said she transferred money into her credit account hours before, but her bank didn’t process the transaction immediately. She said she paid for food with the card later that day.
Onlookers watched as the officers arrived and asked the tearful Lenhart to follow them a few steps into the terminal.
“I looked like a criminal,” she said. “Every time people asked me if I was OK, I just started crying more. My dignity was gone.”
TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg said Islam has an excellent record of taking cards and received plastic payment for the fare right before Lenhart’s.
Via NY Post