Drivers with distorted, unsettling photos on their profiles are cropping up in the Uber app in China, apparently hoping to scare passengers into cancelling their rides and collecting a fee.
Local reports about these “ghost drivers” are leading some to think it’s an organized scam, the Guardian reports. The drivers will collect a few yuan (less than a dollar) for a cancellation fee, and if riders aren’t scared off by their profiles, the driver will accept the ride and terminate to collect a short ride fee before the rider even sees the car.
Uber said it is gathering evidence to eradicate the behavior from its services, and in the meantime is refunding people who complain about being ghosted. Uber has a “zero-tolerance attitude to scamming behavior,” it said in a statement to Chinese media. Uber announced it would merge with its rival Didi Chuxing over the summer, and is going through the transition period.
“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.”