• 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

Simon Le Bon and John Taylor of Duran Duran // Photo by Val Davidson/TSM
Real rideshare drivers don't try to give you the runaround. // Photo by Val Davidson/TSM

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.

Simon Le Bon and John Taylor of Duran Duran // Photo by Val Davidson/TSM
Simon Le Bon and John Taylor of Duran Duran. // Photo by Val Davidson/TSM

The event was stunning, and we had an amazing time! To keep things simple, we took a rideshare from our hotel to the venue.

Simon Le Bon and John Taylor of Duran Duran // Photo by Val Davidson/TSM
The concert venue. // Photo by Val Davidson/TSM

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.

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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.

The men all had this app on their cell phone that blinked to ask concert-goers if they wanted a ride. // Canva

"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.

A smooth-talking guy almost took us for a ride in a fake rideshare. // Canva

Follow Me

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.

Can you spot a fake Uber or Lyft? Probably not by looking at it. If you didn't use the app, don't get in. // Canva

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.

You can't always tell by looking at them, but if you didn't order the ride yourself, don't get in the car. // Canva

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?

Always make sure your rideshare driver is the person you expect. // Canva

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.

Genuine rideshare drivers are more than happy to verify their information with you.  // Canva

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.

Trust, but verify. // Canva

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.

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Gallery Credit: Madison Troyer & Zack Abrams

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