Since this August 15th, people started to report Uber China drivers were cheating in this platform by accept the car order and quickly finished this order which charged the passengers a few bucks in less than a few minutes. Most of the people believed that these drivers were just trying to defraud some money, but as I dug in, some horrible facts emerged from the water.

Caution: This story may contain pictures which could make you uncomfortable.

Who were these drivers?

In Chinese social network Weibo.com, people kept on reporting weird things like the first paragraph, until this Friday when Ghost Uber Drivers events exploded. One famous celebrity in Weibo.com said to his 2 million followers:

Ghost Uber Cars in Tsingtao: no ride but charged, also very horrific Avatar.

Many my followers were facing the same things recently, you called a Uber Car, and when the driver accepted the order, he/she wouldn’t come to pick you up or call you to confirm the destination,but he/she would finish the order and charge you some money. Some drivers have horrific avatars. According to Uber China official, those real face avatars are computer generated, and those drivers were trying to defraud passengers. If you see any driver who’s mouth or eyes are in dark color or twisted face, do cancel the order immediately.”

As I collect those driver’s face, which really makes me uncomfortable, I find the Ghost Drivers have the same features:

  1. dark mouth or eyes which clearly matched by computer;
  2. disproportionate facial structures;
  3. not real man picture but re-captured from phones.

FYI, Uber China has a loose examination of Uber Driver applications. With the fake phone number, fake car number, stolen ID cards, you can register a Uber China account too. Those drivers who disguised themselves as real men successfully fooled Uber system and its employees.

And to the passengers’ description, those Ghost Drivers drove their cars just like real drivers. Ghost Drivers first pretend to pick up the passengers and click the “I have picked them up” button, then quickly drove to the destination and finished the order. Without knowing anything, the passengers were charged for a few bucks.

Why are they doing so?

To the first thought, there is an underground team trying to defraud passengers’ money. That’s reasonable.

However, Uber gets its strict rules to Uber Drivers. If a driver did fraud twice, he would permanently abolish from driving in Uber. Clearly, those Ghost Drivers would be canceled their membership…only if the passenger submits a complaint. Anyway, doing a defraud is a high-risk behavior to drivers. If caught by the system, they won’t get the money too.

As reported in Weibo.com, passengers were mainly charged for 8 or 10 RMB for one order. Those Ghost Drivers were cheating for just 20 RMB? That’s not reasonable!

And according to Uber China employees in Douban.com, those Ghost Drivers have no debt cards bounded which mean even if they cheated some money, no one’s getting the money but…but the money deposited in Uber China bank account.

And to many Uber users, 8 or 10 RMB is not a big number to them, so someone gave up complain this thing. Also Uber has a terrible User Experience when you tried to submit a complaint, you will find it hard to get the correct button. With no one complained about this, money would be stagnated in Uber China Platform. All these come to my first suspicion:

Suspicion 1: after acquired by Didi Chuxing, Uber China has a slump in orders, but their acquisition has to be finished. To make the data looks good, Uber China has to fake some volumes and by the way, make some money. (This is only my suspicion, for reference only)

Who’s behind this behavior?

Those Ghost Uber Drivers did two terrible things to passengers: 1. disturbed Uber user’s trip scheme by quick finish and charge an order; 2. scary pictures frightened Uber users.

Uber China employees said they are handling a lot of this report every day for two weeks. One said in Douban.com “it’s appropriate to say someone or a group is defrauded Uber customers, because no one gets the money, but we still don’t know who’s doing these to terrify our customers. All these pictures are computer generated, sometimes we got terrified too…”

Suspicion 2: When Didi and Uber China finish their acquisition, the Company would hold over 95% of Share economy car market which forms a Market Monopoly. I suspected Video Yongche, the third-rank Uber-like startup is trying to grab some market shares. But according to my observation, people are rushing into Didi Chuxing, no matter drivers or passengers.

Suspicion 3: Could it be Didi? As Didi and Uber reached an agreement in late July, their deal would be finished soon but closely watched by Chinese Government. Decades ago, Coca-cola tried to acquire China’s largest Juice company Huiyuan but failed for the reason Monopoly. If the acquisition failed, would it be good for Didi? Yes! If the deal failed for the political reason which should be written in the Force Majeure Term, Didi wouldn’t pay for anything to drove Uber out of China. At this point, Didi would get more drivers in its platform and see Uber China die sooner or later.

Till now, no one’s coming out to admit it is their behavior.