Couple ‘taken for a ride’ in Uber vomit scam

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JONESBORO, Ark. – After a night downtown with several friends, a Jonesboro couple used Uber to take a ride home. They ended up being taken for a ride of a different kind when they were fraudulently charged $150 for a mess they could not have created.

Reports call it ‘vomit fraud.’ It’s been happening for at least a year across the United States since it was reported by major outlets in July, 2018 (see below). Despite the reporting, Uber still seems to be allowing its drivers to rip off customers and in some cases, Uber refuses to refund the fraudulent charge.

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Fortunately for the local Jonesboro couple, they got their money back after several emails disputing the events.

They wanted an easy $150 bucks. A messy $150, I should say. – Jonesboro Uber passenger.

The couple, who asked not to be named in our story, went through the experience Saturday night in Jonesboro. They were downtown with friends, the woman told NEA Report. They had a few drinks earlier in the night but were sober to the point of being able to drive when it was time to come home. The couple was ready to go but the friends they had rode downtown with were still being entertained.

“I will call us an Uber,” She recalled saying. “We call her and she gets there. It was supposed to be the woman driving but she was in the passenger seat. A dude was driving. But my boyfriend and I were like, ‘Whatever.'”

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Uber accounts only show the first name and photo of the driver along with the make and model of the vehicle. The vehicle, which was supposed to be driven by “Stephanie,” was a Hyundai Accent.

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Stephanie had been a driver for one day. Her only rating came from our source, who gave her 5 stars before realizing she was being scammed.

With the front seats both taken, the couple had no choice but to get in the backseat (they probably would have anyway but remember this detail). The two took the ride home. It was a $7.30 price for the drive. The passengers said they were asked if the music and the air was okay but the front-seat occupants said nothing else the entire ride. 

“Man! That was the weirdest Uber ride I’ve ever had,” She said.

Despite the awkward ride, she gave them a five-star review. It was their first review – at least, on that particular account.

The experience would soon go from five-stars to one-star.

“The next morning, I woke up,” said the female passenger. “I check all of my bank accounts regularly. I checked it and was like, wait a minute. There had been a $150 charge added to that trip.”

Uber made an adjustment to the receipt and it wasn’t until she looked at her bank statement that she found it. The change was a “clean-up” fee, which typically ranges from $80 to $150, per The Miami Herald. It depends on how extensive the mess is that was left in the vehicle – or – how crooked the driver is.

“I asked my boyfriend if he left anything. Neither of us were drunk. There’s nothing that could have happened.”

So she contacted Uber to inquire what had happened.

Uber responded to our passengers. The first message explains that it was a clean-up charge. However, the photos Uber sent should have been the first indicator to the company of fraud. Unless a person first vomited pistachio marshmallow salad and then switched to projecting coffee grounds (that were somehow totally dry), there was no way this was caused by someone who drank themselves into being sick.

On top of that, the mess was in the front seat – where “Stephanie” was seated during the entire ride, the passengers said.

So our passengers replied back and requested a call with Uber. Uber denied this, saying they prefer to keep communications handled via email. Then, after “further investigation,” the Uber rep refunded the fraudulent charge.

“Once they refunded my money, I told them it was very freaky to me – two people in the car. They sent me this long message back saying they’re sorry to hear what happened and they’re glad I reported it. They said they would take it seriously and investigate. They said they would be following up with the driver to make sure appropriate actions are taken internally.”

The passenger will most likely never know what actions Uber took against the driver due to most corporations’ policies on employee confidentiality. There’s no doubt in either of the couple’s minds that they were the victims of a scam who got lucky.

“I really think it was just a scam. My friends and I Googled it after – fake throw-up in Google cars – and it’s happened all over. I think it was just a scam. My boyfriend and I were both in the backseat. It was in the front seat. There’s no reason this should have happened.”


Additional reading:

‘Vomit Fraud’: Uber Drivers’ Fake Puke Claims Cost Riders Up to $150 – by NYMag.com

It’s called vomit fraud. And it could make your Uber trip really expensive. – by Miami Herald. 

Uber has a major ‘vomit fraud’ problem – by NYPost

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