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Uber plagued with ‘ghost drivers’, who’re freaking and scamming passengers out of money in China

Credits: Sixth Tone
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Uber is the largest ride-hailing giant in the world, we all know that. But, how would you feel if you book a cab with the biggest cab aggregator and are greeted with a zombie-like driver? What? Yes, you heard me right! This is the latest problem that the commuters in China are currently being faced with.

According to local publications, the drivers in China are using the long-enforced trust of the commuters in Uber and turning them around on them. As we’re all aware, when one books an Uber ride, they’re all served with the ride details alongwith a profile photo, numberplate, contact number and other information about the driver. And the drivers in China are exploiting this very-feature to fend-off riders and make money.

These driver who’ve come to be known as ‘ghost riders’ are using freaky ‘zombie-like’ profile pictures to scare would-be commuters — who then are fearful of being picked up by that cabbie. This way the riders are not only being scammed out of rides but also out of money — the small cancellation fee that is being deducted from their account and being transferred to the drivers. In China, Uber also offers the drivers a subsidy.

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Credits: Weibo/CNET
Credits: Weibo/CNET

But, the problem just doesn’t end right there. These scammers also go a step ahead to gain monetary benefits and scam users without completing any rides. How you ask?

Well, lets assume, you’re one of those bravehearts who plans to ride with the dead rotten-looking driver, regardless of his appearance in the profile picture. The ghost riders instead of picking you up would start the ride claiming the passenger has entered the vehicle, and then cancel it after a short while. These ‘ghost rides’ usually last about less than a minute, with the driver charging the commuter between 8 to 15 yuan (about 1-2 dollars) for a ride that never happened.

According to a statement given to Quartz, Uber says that it aware of the problem and is in the midst of collecting evidence and user reports. The company also added that it has a “zero-tolerance attitude to scamming behaviour” and is in the process of refunding those scammed.

We have taken immediate actions and banned these reported individual fraud accounts while continuing to investigate and crack down on any fraudulent behavior to protect rider and driver interests, 

said an Uber spokesperson.

He also added the company has recently introduced ‘facial recognition’ technology to prevent driver fraud. This feature matches drivers’ faces to their profile pictures when they first register on the app, and also runs periodical checks to ensure the authencity of those driving their commuters on the daily. But, it now seems that the drivers have been successful in fooling the facial recognition tests, and scamming users for meager sums of money.

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The reports of these deadly-looking zombie drivers(or scammers) comes at the heels of the recent merger of Uber’s Chinese operations with local ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing. In exchange for Uber China’s assets, Uber will receive 5.89% of the combined company with preferred equity interest which is equal to a 17.7% economic interest in Didi Chuxing.

A hands-on guy fascinated by new apps, technologies and enterprise products.

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