‘They Were Conned’: How Reckless Loans Devastated a Generation of Taxi Drivers – The New York Times

Brian M. Rosenthal
By Brian M. Rosenthal
Photographs and Video by Kholood Eid
May 19, 2019
Mohammed Hoque with his three children in their studio apartment in Jamaica, Queens.

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Mohammed Hoque with his three children in their studio apartment in Jamaica, Queens.
The phone call that ruined Mohammed Hoque’s life came in April 2014 as he began another long day driving a New York City taxi, a job he had held since emigrating from Bangladesh nine years earlier.

The call came from a prominent businessman who was selling a medallion, the coveted city permit that allows a driver to own a yellow cab instead of working for someone else. If Mr. Hoque gave him $50,000 that day, he promised to arrange a loan for the purchase.

After years chafing under bosses he hated, Mr. Hoque thought his dreams of wealth and independence were coming true. He emptied his bank account, borrowed from friends and hurried to the man’s office in Astoria, Queens. Mr. Hoque handed over a check and received a stack of papers. He signed his name and left, eager to tell his wife.

Mr. Hoque made about $30,000 that year. He had no idea, he said later, that he had just signed a contract that required him to pay $1.7 million.

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