When there's something strange in your Uber driver's seat, who ya gunna call? Your local trading standards authority, apparently.
Uber passengers in China are being scammed out of cash by a ridiculous-if-brilliant ploy that sees Uber drivers use zombie-like profile pictures.
The sequence of events unfolds thus:
- Uber passenger requests Uber taxi
- Uber driver with zombie-like profile picture accepts request
- Uber passenger looks at the zombie profile picture of the Uber driver, gets scared and cancels the Uber
- Uber driver with zombie-like profile picture picks up a small amount of cash through the cancellation fee
Another less literal "ghost" scam being reported in China sees Uber drivers accepting ride requests and stating the user has entered the vehicle before cancelling the trip, all without the user even seeing the car. The driver is thus paid a few yuan (about £1) unless the user spots the trick and reports them.
Uber is apparently aware of the issue, stating it has a "zero-tolerance attitude to scamming behaviour", implementing new facial recognition technology to prevent drivers using "zombie" pictures: if the driver's profile picture doesn't match the approved image they submitted to Uber, the company will be notified.
"We have taken immediate actions and banned these reported individual fraud accounts while continuing to investigate and crack down on any fraudulent behaviour to protect rider and driver interests," an Uber spokesperson told Quartz.
Here are few more of the offending "ghosts". Better luck next time, guys...