Morocco: A YouTuber films a taxi driver scamming him at Marrakesh airport
A Marrakesh taxi driver had his license revoked and was taken into custody for fraud after a viral video showed him intentionally scamming a British tourist. The case has led to renewed measures taken at the Marrakesh airport to warn tourists of scams and swindling schemes that are common in the Moroccan city.
As Morocco faced Portugal in the quarter-finals of the World Cup on December 10, Welsh Youtuber Simon Wilson decided to travel to Morocco to watch the game with Moroccan fans. He filmed his trip in a vlog, a video blog dedicated to travel on his Youtube channel with more than one million subscribers.
Arriving at Marrakech airport, Simon Wilson took a taxi to Jemaa el Fnaa square in the city centre, where Moroccan fans had gathered. The driver told him that the fare, which would take 20 minutes, would be "325 dirhams (about 29 euros) and added: "If you give me 350 dirhams (about 31 euros) that would be generous of you."
The filmed exchange ends with Simon Wilson paying the driver the sum of 350 dirhams, before expressing his doubts out loud: "It was only a 20-minute drive, and what's that, about 35 euros?" Indeed, the prices for trips from the airport to the city centre are set at 70 dirhams (6 euros) for small vehicles and 105 dirhams (9.4 euros) for vans.
The story might have ended there if the British YouTuber had not posted a more detailed excerpt of his exchange with the driver on Tik Tok on December 20. This video, which has garnered more than three million views, attracted the attention of the local authorities in the Marrakesh-Safi region.
@simonjwils Was this a scam or is he just cheeky? 🇲🇦 #simonwilson #travel #morocco #morocco🇲🇦 #taxi #scam #touristtrap #touristvslocal #crazy #scammer ♬ original sound - Simon Wilson
The 30-second clip shows Simon Wilson meeting the driver at the airport. When he arrives at Jemaa el Fnaa Square, Wilson gives the driver 400 dirhams and asks for his change of 50 dirhams.
The driver tries to keep the remaining 50 dirhams, repeating: "350 dirhams, if you give me 400 it will be very generous", echoing his first request earlier in the video, when he had already asked for 25 dirhams more than the amount he initially asked for. At the end of the exchange, the driver reluctantly gives the change, muttering "no tip, never tip" to the customer.
The video elicited a widespread response from Moroccans online, enough so that it attracted the attention of officials in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs in the Marrakesh-Safi region, of which Marrakesh is the capital.
The authorities identified the driver and withdrew his "confidence permit", a commercial licence granted to local taxi drivers, on December 22. The driver denied swindling the tourist, claiming that Wilson had asked for a tour of the city before going to the central square, which would justify the total price.
Local police refuted the driver's claims, verifying via CCTV footage that the trip was direct from the airport to Jemaa el Fnaa square.
On December 28, the driver was remanded into custody for "swindling, extortion, contempt of the judicial police and false declarations". Following the scandal, the Marrakesh-Menara airport installed a taxi desk to limit direct interactions with drivers and ensure that fares are respected.
A campaign launched by the city of Marrakesh in May 2022 aims to address taxi drivers who overcharge for their services or who disregard metered fares, contrary to existing regulations.
The FRANCE 24 Observers team contacted Simon Wilson for comment but has not yet received a response.