The victim, independent cab driver Murray Grant, was treated at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin having suffered facial injuries from what police say was a “serious” assault.
A low three-figure sum was stolen during the incident which happened in the Linkwood Road area of the town at around 11.10pm.
A man had been picked up by the taxi in the Langstane area saying he required to go to Lhanbryde – however, shortly into the journey the passenger grabbed the hand brake and punched Mr Grant full in the face.
The attacker is described as being aged between 20 and 30 years and is about 5ft 6in tall. Police say that they had traced the telephone call for the cab to a public telephone box on Linkwood Road.
The man was described as wearing a light brown jacket with a hood and had a dark scarf around his face and dark gloves. He spoke with an Eastern European accent.
Detective Inspector Norman Stevenson said: “This was a serious incident that resulted in a taxi driver being treated at hospital for facial injuries. While he has not been seriously injured he has been left shaken by what happened.
“We are appealing for anyone who saw a man matching the description given late on Thursday evening in the Langstane, Reiket Lane or Linkwood Road areas to contact us on 101.
“It is an unusual type of incident for the area and we would ask anyone with knowledge to contact us or alternatively Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 to remain anonymous.”