Arizona Scam Alert: Beware of Fake Rideshare Drivers After Events!
- Just because a car has a Lyft or Uber sign, doesn't mean they're authentic
- Order the rideshare yourself and then verify the driver's name and license plate number
- Never get in a car you didn't order yourself
Taking a Ride: An Uber Newbie
Over the weekend, we attended the big concert after the Phoenix Open. I finally got to see Duran Duran live in concert.
The event was stunning, and we had an amazing time! To keep things simple, we took a rideshare from our hotel to the venue.
Full disclosure: this was my first time using a rideshare. I've been to cities around the world, and I've ridden in taxis, double-decker buses, ferries, and even horse-drawn carriages, and rickshaws. But I've never been in an Uber. This was a first for me.
I was surprised at how easy it was. We opened the app and gave some pick-up details, and a nice lady from Brazil showed up in a Tesla three minutes later. The whole experience was a painless delight.
The ride home was altogether different.
Almost Taken for a Ride in a Fake Uber
When we left the concert venue, a line of cars was parked up and down the street. Sitting outside of the cars were men with cell phones. "Need rideshare? Uber? Lyft?" their cell phone screens blinked blue, green, blue.
"Hey, you need a ride?" the men asked as we passed. The parked cars had bright lights in their front windshields that read "Uber," "Taxi," "Lyft," and sometimes all three. The whole thing seemed off.
Red flag number one.
Finally, a young man approached and said he could give us a ride to our hotel for $75. We told him we'd only paid $22 to get to the venue, so he quickly amended, "Okay, $45". Um. No. We kept walking. He kept following us and lowering the price. Alarm bells were going off in my head.
Another man asked, "Are you looking for an Uber?". My husband said yes. The man told us to follow him. We crossed the road and ended up behind a tall building where dozens of cars were parked.
He and another man in a Tesla - our would-be driver - asked us where we were headed. We told them the hotel's name; they asked us where it was and how to get there.
Red flag number 2.
My husband pulled out his Uber app and told the men we would connect with them through the app. They said, no, that wasn't how they would do that. We could pay them cash or use a cash transfer app to give them the money for the ride. That way it would be a great ride for less money.
Red flag number 3.
We quickly turned around, found a well-lit cross street, and ordered a rideshare through the app. The driver appeared in minutes, and the whole thing felt different.
What kind of scam were we almost victims of?
Fake Rideshare Drivers After Events in Arizona
If you plan to attend a concert or an event in a city, using a rideshare makes getting to and from the event easy, as we learned.
But, as we almost learned the hard way, you really have to watch out for fake rideshare drivers trying to pass themselves off as real ones only to prey on unsuspecting passengers.
Some fake rideshare drivers are people using stolen or rented accounts posing as legitimate drivers and hustling people looking for a quick ride. It's interesting to point out that these guys never actually said they worked for Lyft or Uber but asked us if that was what we were looking for, heavily implying they were with the rideshare companies.
Many of the "drivers" had decals and lit window signs saying they were with rideshares. These guys may offer you a cheaper fare or a faster route than the real driver, but once you get in their car, you could be putting yourself at risk of being scammed, robbed, or harmed.
Don't Get Scammed, Arizona: How to Spot a Fake Rideshare Driver
How can you spot a fake rideshare driver and avoid becoming a victim? Here are some tips to follow:
- Order the ride yourself, then make sure the details match: you know each other's names, the license plate matches, etc.
- Don’t trust the driver because they have an Uber or Lyft decal. Anyone can buy or print these decals online. Look for other signs your driver is authentic, such as the waybill screen on the driver’s app.
We almost got scammed, but we followed our instincts and could walk away unharmed.