Normally when one of us writes about a scam, we’re doing it because we want to either laugh at an incompetent one or at the people who fall for an obvious one. But right now I’m going to be completely serious because I know that even as popular as it is, there are a lot of people out there who have no idea how Uber works.
I don’t know how widespread this is, but there’s no way in hell that this fella in Guelph is the first or the last person to try it. It’s far too obvious a con to have not at least been attempted somewhere before now.
Guelph Police say it all started around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, when two women leaving a restaurant accepted a ride “from a man who was posing as an Uber driver.”
When the women arrived at their destination on Victoria Road, the driver allegedly demanded more money than he had originally agreed on.
At that point, police say, the upset driver grabbed a water bottle and threw it through a window.
He was captured and charged shortly thereafter, so he won’t be out giving repeat performances right away at worst or ever again at best.
But the reason I’m writing this is because as easy a scam as this is to pull off, it’s equally simple to spot before you get sucked in.
Basically, the moment your driver starts talking to you about a price, you’re being lied to. If he asks you for cash or a credit card, you’re being lied to. Neither of these things happen in a legitimate Uber transaction. Everything is handled through the Uber app. It’s both how you call for a ride and how you pay for it. You give your credit card number to the app, which then times your trip while you’re on the road like a taxi metre and then bills you when you’re done. You and your driver have no reason to discuss money unless your conversation turns to the stock market.
That’s not to say that everyone who claims to drive for Uber and offers you a ride out of the blue is a liar. I’d bet most of them are, but it’s possible. And if that happens, you’ll know he’s for real when he tells you to open the app and book a ride to wherever you are even though he’s sitting right next to you. He’ll do that because that’s how legitimate Uber drivers get paid the proper amount for their work. If he doesn’t, offer to do it and watch his reaction. If he’s hesitant and tries to talk you out of it, it’s because he’s full of shit and not a ride you want to accept.
Hopefully this clears things up before any of you run into a situation like this.