The tables have turned for this week’s What The Uber. This time it is the Uber drivers (instead of the company itself) who are causing the mischief! A few news sources online are claiming that Uber drivers are tricking the company into paying for “fares” from fictional passengers through multiple cons involving hacked smartphones and scammers on private forums.
According to the International Business Times, the first con works in the following way, “Drivers use one number to act as a rider, request a lift, then accept it from their driver account. Being a new customer, the modified phone’s number will be given some free Uber credit – but when passengers use free credit for a ride, the driver is still paid by Uber itself for completing the journey. Say the driver has a genuine fare waiting for him at the local airport, he could use this technique to get paid for the drive there, covering his petrol and earning him money while the car is empty.” Apparently, these drivers are using hacked phones that are capable of handling several numbers at once so they do not need to worry about using multiple phones, making the scam much easier to complete.
The second con is even more intricate as it involves drivers working together with swindlers through online, private forums. According to a Bloomberg article the second scheme works like this, “Driver’s will go into one of several invitation-only online forums and request a fake fare from professional ride-bookers. These bookers are referred to as “nurses” because they use specially tailored software to put an “injection,” or location-specific ride request near the driver. The driver, or “patient,” then makes the trip while the booker monitors remotely, confirms the journey was made and then pays Uber when the trip is complete. The nurse gets a small fee, usually about $1.60, and the reimbursement for the fare from the patient. The driver in turn collects the fare and a driver bonus that can be three times the fare from Uber.” This driver bonus is part of a new initiative from Uber headquarters in China to encourage more drivers to get behind the Uber wheel.
Both of these cons are quite devious and we wonder how long it will be before Uber is able to crack down on these drivers. An Uber spokeswomen, Huang Xue, said in a statement: “Uber takes fraud very seriously, and will deactivate drivers/users permanently once caught.” It seems like Uber doesn’t like having a taste of their own medicine!
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