Uber Drivers in China Are Using Ghoulish Pictures to Scare Away Passengers

Adam Berry/Getty
Adam Berry/Getty / Adam Berry/Getty

The latest complaint Uber users have with the ride-sharing app sounds like the set-up to a horror movie: After a ride request is accepted, some passengers in China have been greeted with the profile of a “ghost driver” en route to pick them up. According to The Guardian, the spooky images are part of a new scheme used by drivers in China to score cancellation fees.

Drivers taking part in the deception will upload a picture manipulated to look like a ghost, zombie, or vampire to an otherwise normal profile. The intention is to frighten passengers into canceling their ride for a small fee the drivers then get to keep. Each cancellation amounts to 4.20 yuan, or about $.60.

That’s small enough that many would-be passengers won’t bother reporting the incident: Meanwhile, ghost drivers can spend the day scaring away customers and watch the fees add up. When brave passengers do decide to wait around for the ride, some ghost drivers will take the scam even further and accept a rider on the app as if they’ve entered the car without picking them up. The stood-up customer will eventually cancel and the driver still gets the fee.

Uber employees have plagued the ride-sharing service with scams in the past, from following unnecessary routes to charging customers for vomiting in the car when they never did. The company says they're refunding any customers who were involved in the latest scam and introducing facial-recognition technology to crack down on further driver fraud.

[h/t The Guardian]

Know of something you think we should cover? Email us at tips@mentalfloss.com.