10News Investigates Dark Side Of Pedicabs

Many people have said they believe America is the land of opportunity.

Several foreign students thought that was the case when they accepted job offers in San Diego.

However, the students said they traveled from various countries to be allegedly ripped off.

Many pedicab drivers in San Diego said they carry a dark secret. They said they believe they are indentured servants.

Ahmet is a college student from Istanbul, Turkey, who said he is trapped in a job that promised big money.

“They told me I could make good money, $200 a day. Sometimes $150 a day,” said Ahmet.

Those promises for a good job are on a variety of Web sites all over the Internet, but the foreign students were never told about the deposit or the $200 weekly charge to lease the pedicabs they drive.

In order to make that much, a pedicab driver would have to work 15 to 16 hours a day. Sometimes many drivers do not even make that much money.

Victor, a Russian student, said, “We work. We have no money. We gave all of our money to him.”

Victor is referring to the man who runs Yellow Bike Cab.

“He steals money from my friends. He steals money,” said Victor.

Some of the students said that is not all.

A security camera caught the students’ pedicab employer taking their leased pedicabs. Initially, the pedicab drivers thought their cabs had been stolen. They eventually got them back after paying more money. Despite what was shown on tape, the drivers did not walk away.

The students said their boss threatened to have them deported.

With visas expiring next week, these students just want to go home. But they want their deposits back from their pedicab boss.

“My deposit is $125,” said one Russian student. It is big money for the students.

The owner of Yellow Bike Cab, Dave White, told 10News investigators, “They’re ruining our property. They are working illegally here. I’ve been trying to get immigration to do something, but they won’t. They are liars, thieves and cheats. There, you have my statement.”

When asked if his employees’ treatment was about indentured servitude, White replied, “No, it’s about free trade.”

So, can foreign students on visas be treated like alleged indentured servants? Not according to a spokeswoman from the Department of Homeland Security, who told 10News the issue would be looked into.

Other pedicab operators told 10News investigators leasing to drivers is a common practice, but the foreign students are being charged what is believed to be double the normal rate.

Insiders also informed 10News investigators this alleged practice has driven up the cost of pedicab rides at the expense of consumers.

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