China has a so-called “ghost driver” problem, with Uber passengers being scammed out of rides and money, fearful of being picked up by what looks like a zombie.
According to local reports, pick-up requests are being met by Uber drivers using zombie-like profile shots to scare would-be passengers into cancelling their rides, which means the driver is paid a small cancellation fee.
When the passenger books the ride they are shown a profile photo, numberplate and other bits of information about the driver. Given fears over the safety of so-called ride-sharing systems such as Uber, its understandable that when a creepy-looking profile of the driver pops up to confirm their pickup that many passengers simply cancel the request.
Should the passenger carry on with the journey regardless of the deathly face staring at them on their phone, the ghost drivers will also claim that the passenger has entered the vehicle and cancel it a short time after, again charging the customer a small fee.
According to a statement given to Chinese media, Uber is aware of the problem and is in the process of collecting evidence and user reports.
The company said that it has a “zero-tolerance attitude to scamming behaviour” and that it was refunding those scammed and was using technology to try to combat the scammers. It recently introduced facial-recognition technology in an attempt to reduce driver fraud in China, which confirms that the driver’s face matches the one the company has on file.
“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,” an Uber spokesperson told Quartz.
Uber and local rival Didi Chuxing merged at the start of August, leaving the new Uber-branded service with control of the new app-assisted taxi industry in the country. The merger saw Uber hand over its branding, operations and data to Didi in exchange for a 20% stake of the company.