The popular ride-sharing service Uber is being plagued by reports of fake drivers. Unsuspecting passengers have found themselves cheated, abducted and in some cases sexually assaulted. It’s gotten so bad at JFK and LaGuardia Airports in New York that Uber filed a complaint with the New York Port Authority that oversees taxi and other legally for hire vehicles. Josh Mohrer, Uber’s New York City manager, recently wrote to the NYPA, “In some cases, riders even report that drivers are using makeshift signs with the word ‘Uber’ on them to get travelers into their cars.” (I’ve experienced this firsthand: the last time I flew into LGA, a driver with an “Uber” sign pulled up to me and told me to get into his car. I checked his plate and realized he wasn’t my driver—and perhaps wasn’t an Uber driver at all—but he urged me to get in anyway. I declined.)
In addition, passengers have reported fake Uber drivers charging outrageous prices and forcing them to pay. The fake Uber drivers often target passengers at curbside and charge a flat rate demanding to only be paid in cash. An undercover reporter from one media outlet claims she was charged $65 for a one way trip from LaGuardia Airport to downtown Manhattan, which should normally cost $40. Other scammed riders claim they were in a car and the driver increased the price mid ride. If the person stated they did not have the cash, the driver stated they would have to take them to an ATM or drop them off in a strange neighborhood.
But it’s not just New York that is reporting fake Uber drivers. Police in Gainesville, Florida have warned that fake Uber drivers were targeting women. In the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area, there was a report of a fake Uber driver picking up two female college students and making inappropriate sexual comments during the ride. There have also been multiple reports of sexual assaults reported in California, Illinois, Florida, Massachusetts and several other states. Legitimate Uber drivers can only be summoned by an app. All drivers accept credit cards and none are supposed to take cash only for a ride. A person using Uber should always check the app for driver identification and license tag.