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Uber China Scams Passengers With Ghost Drivers And Ghost Rides

First Posted: Sep 23, 2016 03:16 PM EDT
The Uber app is seen on a smartphone past cabs waiting for clients near the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, on December 9, 2014. A judge on December 9, 2014 banned the popular smartphone taxi service Uber from operating in Spain, court officials said, following similar prohibition action in several other countries. AFP PHOTO/ QUIQUE GARCIA
The Uber app is seen on a smartphone past cabs waiting for clients near the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, on December 9, 2014. A judge on December 9, 2014 banned the popular smartphone taxi service Uber from operating in Spain, court officials said, following similar prohibition action in several other countries. AFP PHOTO/ QUIQUE GARCIA
(QUIQUE GARCIA / Stringer via Getty Images)

The plot of the Uber Scam is simple: drivers upload creepy profile pictures to prompt users to cancel their booked rides.

The internet and the news centers in China have been filled with reports about a number of Uber drivers who are using zombie-like profile pictures to scare customers in the hope that they will cancel their rides. As per Uber rules, a small fee will be collected from every ride cancellation after which the money will go to the booked driver's account.

Drivers (referred to as "ghost drivers") who place distorted, unsettling photos on their Uber profiles are cropping up the China Uber app, and reports of increasing complaints from victims are now starting to alarm Chinese residents.

"It was at night and from the driver's location I was expecting the driver to arrive very soon. The map showed the driver just passed me, but there was no car around," Veaer Wang from Shandong province told the Financial Times. "The road was very narrow and there's no way a car could have passed me without me seeing it."

Apparently, the scam aims to scare passengers who booked through their Uber app into cancelling their rides, which has a corresponding penalty.

Local reports about these "ghost drivers" are causing some residents to think it's an organized scam, reports the Guardian. The said drivers will collect a certain amount of yuan (less than a dollar) for a cancellation fee.

A back-up plan is also planned in the event that riders aren't scared off by the profile pictures. In this second scheme, the "ghost driver" will accept the ride but will collect a short ride fee before the rider even sees the car.

Pieces of evidence are currently being gathered by Uber to support the move to eradicate the behavior from its system and services. Reports also showed proofs of Uber's initiative of refunding people who complain about being ghosted. Uber said during an interview with a Chinese media that the company has a "zero-tolerance attitude to scamming behavior."

Moreover, Uber has implemented a facial recognition technology that will match the profile picture showed on the Uber app with what the company holds on file.

Theories also came out that the scam came as a result of Uber's transition period since it announced its partnership with rival company Didi Chuxing, Sixth Tone reports.

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