For years Uber and Lyft battled state and city regulators over their right to exist, and the rules they’d have to abide by. One of the major sticking points has been background checks. How do you know who your driver is, and for that matter whether their car is safe and insured?
Overall these companies have done well. Horror stories exist – as they do with taxis! – but are rare. Nonetheless the procedures they have in place are far from fool proof. In fact an extensive ridesharing driver fraud ring was operating but finally busted giving us the details of how people who couldn’t make the cut as drivers were picking up rides anyway.
Federal prosecutors describe a “nationwide scheme that used stolen identities to fool ride-hailing and delivery service companies into hiring unqualified drivers.” Four men have pled guilty out of 19 who were charged last year.
The scheme involved the use of stolen identities to set up fraudulent driver accounts with multiple ride-hailing and delivery companies, prosecutors said. Those accounts were then sold or rented to drivers who might not otherwise qualify for jobs with those services, including those who could not pass background checks or were ineligible to work in the U.S.
In some instances, driver’s license details were stolen from unsuspecting victims during the exchange of information following intentionally caused car accidents, according to court documents.
The scheme also employed the use of automated bots and GPS spoofing technology to increase the income earned from the fraudulent accounts, prosecutors said.
Each scammer would create fraudulent accounts using stolen identities, and then rent out the driver identities on social media generating hundreds of thousands of dollars. Three individuals charged in the scam remain at large.