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Uber ‘Ghost Drivers’ in China Are Scamming and Scaring Customers

Taxi Drivers Protest Possible Uber Expansion In NYCTaxi Drivers Protest Possible Uber Expansion In NYC
Uber drivers are tricking customers in China to pay a cancellation fee. Photograph by Spencer Platt — Getty Images

Uber is having a spooky problem.

Some Uber drivers in China are using zombie-like profile pictures to scare customers into cancelling their rides, thus collecting a small cancellation fee from frightened customers, according Sixth Tone, a online publication that reports on contemporary China.

But this isn’t the only way the driver’s are reportedly tricking people, Sixth Tone reports. If customers aren’t scared off by a driver’s profile, the ghost drivers will still accept the ride, claiming that the passenger has entered the vehicle, but then terminate the trip before the customer even sees the car. Both tactics result in a small fee for the passenger.

The Guardian reports that Uber is aware of the issue, and reportedly gave a statement to Chinese media saying it is collecting evidence and user reports, as well as saying it has a “zero-tolerance attitude to scamming behavior.” The ride-hailing service is refunding those who were scammed as well.


To help combat driver fraud, especially in China, Uber has implemented a facial recognition technology to match the picture the company has on file, according to the Guardian.

Part of the scamming may be a result of the transition period Uber is currently facing in it’s China market, Sixth Tone notes. Over the summer, Uber announced that is was merging with local rival Didi Chuxing in hopes to put an end to its losses there. But the merger came with Uber’s agreement to hand over its branding, operation and data information to its former rival, according to the Guardian, resulting in complaints that Uber’s customer service isn’t acting as it should, among other issues.


In a statement to Quartz, an Uber spokesperson said that the company has “taken immediate actions and banned these reported individual fraud accounts while continuing to investigate and crack down on any fraudulent behavior to protect rider and driver interests.”

Fortune has reached out to Uber and will update the story if it responds.