How Uber Wiped Out Millions In Capital From "Mom And Pop" Investors In NYC's 'Green Cab Ponzi'

Tyler Durden's picture

The first yellow-taxi medallions were sold in New York City in 1937 for $10 each.  Over the next several decades, the value of those medallions soared until they ultimately peaked at roughly $1.1 million in 2004, generating an annual return that far outpaced equity returns over the same period. 

So when Dr. Amarpreet Singh received a 'tip' from a patient back in 2013 that NYC was expanding its taxi fleet by issuing thousands of permits for a new line of cabs, so-called green taxis that would pick up passengers in the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan, he jumped at the 'opportunity' to get in on the ground floor.  Within a matter of months, Singh had purchased himself 5 green-cab permits for $75,000 plus 5 handicap accessible vehicles for another $325,000 and was ready to start raking in the dough. 

Unfortunately, Singh missed one vital detail in his due diligence: a small up and coming company called Uber. Per Crain's

Singh liked the idea of helping disabled New Yorkers get around town, so he paid the broker $75,000 for five green-cab permits, plus another $325,000 for vehicles. Then he waited for drivers to rent his taxis. And waited some more. After nearly two years he got in touch with his patient to see what was up with the investment. Singh learned his cabs were lying fallow in Mill Basin, Brooklyn. He dashed over and found a parking lot filled with 600 cars, none with license plates and some not even outfitted as taxis.

 

"It was just a sea of green," said Singh. "I walked out telling myself, Oh my God, what have I done?"

Green Taxis

 

The collapse of the taxi business has dramatically altered New York's streetscape. Spurred by the advent of Uber and other apps, the number of drivers looking for passengers has grown by 40%, but the surge has meant less business for cabbies, who are making 30% fewer trips than only three years ago. Those who invested in yellow or green cabs are seeing their investments wiped out as drivers flock to rivals or pursue other work and cars sit idle.

Since 2013 5,000 taxi drivers have thrown in the towel, and last month Queens-based Melrose Credit Union was seized by state regulators after delinquent cab loans soared tenfold in just 18 months. The stock price of the city's preeminent taxi lender, Medallion Financial Corp., has fallen so far that one share now costs less than a subway ride.

Moreover, as we recently noted, Capital One breaks out the details of its runoff commercial taxi medallion loan portfolio in its quarterly reports and they don't paint a nice picture.  Just since March 2015, nonperforming Taxi Medallion loans have soared to over 50% from just over 1% less than two years prior.  

 

But investors in New York City's green cab permits allege their losses are due to more than just market share losses to Uber.  In fact, a group of green cab investors, including Singh, have sued in Brooklyn state court, alleging their green-cab broker and his partners cheated them out of $8 million by selling taxi permits "in the manner of a Ponzi scheme." They also allege the defendants funneled millions of dollars' worth of taxi money into Platinum Partners, a large hedge fund that federal prosecutors likened to a Ponzi scheme after it collapsed last year.

Ginsburg's investors further allege that, in an effort to hide money made from selling permits, he and Langer lent $7.2 million to Platinum Partners in June 2015 through their real estate company, White Rock Properties.

 

Manhattan-based Platinum was a $1.7 billion hedge fund that collapsed last year, and seven executives were charged with crimes, including the fund's founder and chief investment officer, two co-chief investment officers and its president.

Of course, medallion broker Alan Ginsburg who made a killing selling green cab permits at multiples of their true market value, denies any wrong doing and says the pending litigation is nothing more than a 'shakedown'.

The broker, 33-year-old serial entrepreneur Alan J. "A.J." Ginsburg, denies any wrongdoing and said investors are blaming him for the taxi industry's woes. "The accusations being made about me are absolute lies," he said. "This lawsuit against me is nothing but a shakedown."

 

It might seem like long ago, but as recently as 2013, taxis were a red-hot investment. The price for a medallion granting the right to drive a yellow cab and pick up street hails quadrupled after 2004, peaking at $1.1 million.

 

Yet cabs were often hard to find outside Manhattan, and lots of would-be drivers were priced out by the soaring value of medallions. To tackle both problems, in 2013 the city created green cabs, also known as Boro Taxis, and sold 6,000 permits, mostly for $1,500 apiece. Demand was so strong that by December of that year, a permit was resold for $7,000, according to Bloomberg News. The city sold a few thousand more permits the following year for $3,000 each, and still there was a waiting list of 6,300, according to the New York Post.

 

"People were looking at this as the next big taxi-medallion market," said Matthew Daus, a former chairman of the Taxi & Limousine Commission.

Today, a green-cab permit can be had on Craigslist for just $999, a small 93% discount to what Singh paid in 2013, and the city has declined to offer the last 6,000 permits it's authorized to sell. Meanwhile, Nancy Soria, the first person to buy a green-cab permit from the city, said she started driving at 8:30 one recent morning and didn't pick up a customer until 11.

Just another helpful reminder of how quickly bubbles pop...

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nmewn's picture

When you interfere with private commerce (like with government issued "medallions" and "licensing") trying to pick winners & losers, you will pay the total cost of the fare charged, at some point...lol.

One way or the other ;-)

NidStyles's picture

Dudes name is Ginsburg.

 

 

Did they seriously expect a different outcome with a name like that?

WernerHeisenberg's picture

"The broker, 33-year-old serial entrepreneur Alan J. "A.J." Ginsburg, denies any wrongdoing"

Serial entrepreneur, now that is a label for the ages, evokes other types of repeat criminals

Mazzy's picture

Carpetbaggers and Slave Traders.

Hedge Fund Managers, Financeers and....yep, Taxi Cab Medallion Brokers and Serial Entrepreneurs.

We let those people into our country?  We let them control finance, the media, and hold widely disproportionate seats in government?

Freddie's picture

Hinjoo doctor scammed by someone named Ginsburg.

I try to find goy doctors because they usually have good hygene.  One well know hinjoo heart surgeon had patients that got lots of infections, probably from him.

BTW- ever wonder how Uber got passed powerful taxi monpolies in big cities?  Rahm zio Emmanuel's brother is a major investor in Uber.

flicker life's picture
flicker life (not verified) Freddie Mar 15, 2017 6:02 AM

I'm making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do... http://bit.ly/2jdTzrM

Bubba Rum Das's picture

"Dudes name is Ginsburg...
Did they seriously expect a different outcome with a name like that?"

Om Shalom!


Anteater's picture
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull, Alan Ginsberg, Howl
Dealyer Turdin's picture

Sidd(onmyjunkboy)hartha.

 

DelusionsCrowded's picture

WOW , he was on crack before there was .Big dreams go up in smoke .

But really perhaps Ginsberg the honourable the serial inventor might have had bad timing , it does happen .

Lets Buy The Dip's picture

its happening in australia too they say. :-0 

crazytechnician's picture

He waited 2 years to see why there was no ROI ?

Fool better climb down into his safe space where due diligence don't exist. Sheep will be shawn. New paradigm BTChezzz.

RafterManFMJ's picture

Dr. Amarpreet Singh is a cocksucker and a rent-seeking slimeball - fuck him, hope he goes banktupt. Like the FUCK is a victim? He colluded with a bankrupt gang know as D Governement and now when his scheme goes tits up, he cries? Fuck him and fuck any cocksucker that paints him as a victim.

junction's picture

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/carriage-drivers-not-switch-cabs-uni...

In 2014, Mayor DeBlasio laughed off the suggestion that New York City would offer the hansom cab drivers of Central Park free taxi medallions in exchange for giving up driving their horse drawn carriages.  Those hansom drivers will always have customers, tourists, willing to pay for the experience of driving around midtown Manhattan in a horse drawn carriage.  So their hansom licesnes are now worth more than a hack license.

cowdiddly's picture

Somewhere in NYC Earl Scheib got stuck with 5000 gallons of Guacamole green Krylon Durolux

Bubba Rum Das's picture

"5000 gallons of Guacamole green Krylon Durolux"

My '79 El Camino needs a paint jop...Kind of a spiffy color, if you live out in the 'level lands'...!

cowdiddly's picture

Oh, in that case we will call it Daytona Bikini Green with Shimrin Pearls KandyKote

Platinum's picture

Right, I'll paint* any car for $99.95!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtjdHaMeiiQ

*no guarantee the paint will be applied evenly or the even the correct color!

shovelhead's picture

When I was a kid in California I went to Maaco to get my badly faded pickup repainted a very slight metallic dark hunter green like the original color.

The fucking thing came out looking like a bassboat with flakes the size of pencil erasers. the thing was so bright in the sun it knocked birds out of the sky and warmed the air around it.

The owner said "Fuck you you wanted metallic green, that's metallic green. Sue me."

The Mexicans liked it. A lowrider would pull up next to me at a light and go "Orale esse...Nice paint". I sold it to one 2 weeks later and made money on the deal. It didn't make up for driving that horror for 2 weeks. It was the only time in my life that I was ashamed to be white.

whatswhat1@yahoo.com's picture

Ffunny story.  Brought back memories of 1960's Earl Scheib paint jobs where they would paint the chrome bumpers, chrome trim, and windows.

Goldennutz's picture

Ahhh..an oldtimer that remembers Earl Shyster!

SmittyinLA's picture

Fuck those people, they are the importers and employers of cheap Muslim cab labor and municipal graft, Fuck those people to hell.

Bubba Rum Das's picture

"Fuck those people, they are the importers and employers of cheap Muslim cab labor and municipal graft, Fuck those people to hell."

Fuck the Muslims anyway, they need to GTF out of our country!

Publicus_Reanimated's picture

Ummm, let's be careful about that.  2 to 1 he's a Sikh.

Sudden Debt's picture

damn... more people having to look for a real job....

whenever you have a job that anybody with almost no training can do.... look for something else. ASAP.

 

Bananamerican's picture

so you're saying Singh was singin the blues cuz of a green sea of red-ink?

 

Yen Cross's picture

  I thought you meant GRUBER.?   [ The architect of ZeroCare]

Lost in translation's picture

How was it that Uber just came out of nowhere, and took off like a rocket?

I think I know...

JuliaS's picture

Look at all those self-driving cars!

Golden Showers's picture

Harry, answer that.
So, what do you want to hack for, Bickle?
I can't sleep nights.
- There's porno theaters for that.
- I know. I tried that.
So what do you do now?
Ride around nights mostly.
Subways, buses.
Figured if I'm gonna do that,
I might as well get paid for it.
Wanna work uptown nights,
South Bronx, Harlem?
- I'll work anytime, anywhere.
- Will you work Jewish holidays?
Anytime, anywhere.
Let me see your chauffeur's license.
- Give me one cab.
- How's your driving record?
It's clean, real clean, like my conscience.
Are you gonna break my chops?
Got trouble with guys like you
breaking my chops.
If you're gonna break my chops,
you can take it on the arches. Understand?
Sorry, sir. I didn't mean that.
- Physical?
- Clean.
- Age?
- Twenty-six.
Education?
Some.
Here, there, you know.
Hey, Horowitz!
Military record?
Honorable discharge...
May 1973.
- Were you in the army?
- Marines.
I was in the Marines, too.
So what is it? You need an extra job?
Are you moonlighting?
I just want to work long hours.
What's moonlighting?
Look, just fill out these forms and
check back tomorrow when the shift breaks.
O'Brien, please step up.
Take the car out to 58th Street, please,
'cause it's crowded on 57th.
All right, I'm coming down there.
Let's go.

chosen's picture

Stupid fuck, go back to India, and take all your fucking Indian invaders with you.

stacking12321's picture

no, fuck you.

i'd rather have 1000 sikhs living near me as neighbors, than ONE asshole like you.

CRM114's picture

Greedy bastard gets screwed by corrupt bastard...and I care?

monoloco's picture

Meanwhile Uber continues to hemorrage money at the rate of 3 billion a year.

 

Northern Lights's picture

Last company I worked for for over 8 years, we would have to stay late the whole first week of the month closing the books which meant taxi chits for everyone who stayed to go home.  During those 8 years, I only ever had 1 white male cab driver.  He took a route to my building that was quickes than what any other driver ever took.  From that trip forward, everytime I got in a cab I'd tell the dindu driver's the same route.  A couple were quite surpised how fast the route was.  Bullshit, they probably knew but avoided it.  Needles to say, the whole cab industry in my town is owned by white jews, but the fleets are being run by sand niggers most of whom are of the muslim religion variety.  The Indians who used to drive made their money in the 80's and 90's got out of the cab industry and openned up other businesses like restaurants and stuff.  The one's in the industry today are recent immigrants, refugees mostly who have no skill, or command of the english language.  No need.  You just give them the street number and they punch it into their GPS.  Fuck it, let the cab indsutry die.

Goldennutz's picture

And those drivers stink like they didn't bathe in a month, which they probably haven't.

Herb Ellis's picture

Hopefully the next Ghostbusters movie will come out soon and he can 'cab' the movie goers in next niche market? 

chosen's picture

He can pin his expensive medallions to his coat, while sitting on the street begging, hopefully in Calcutta.  Everyone will be very impressed (sarc).

BlussMann's picture

No way someone named "AJ" Ginsburg is a con artist. No way.

DelusionsCrowded's picture

And man could he sell the dream . It was the Green Dream , the American dream the dream of green , a no brainer , hanging low fruit , easy as apple pie (not pork pie , Sheiks don't like pork pie) .

 

runnymede's picture

NYC = proof that human progress a lie