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    Mar 04, 2015

    Fake Uber cabby takes some for a ride

    A MAN driving a car that he claimed was an Uber taxi allegedly scammed at least two commuters over the weekend.

    The Honda car, with the licence plate number "SJT1444Y", was found on Monday night and has been impounded by the authorities.

    Uber Singapore said on Monday that the alleged Uber car is not registered on its platform. Uber added it has filed a police report and alerted LTA about the incident.

    One of the scam victims was muay thai gym owner Darius Wong, who waited 50 minutes for a cab on Saturday. He had been waiting to take a cab from Toa Payoh to his workplace in Chinatown at 1.45pm. Instead, a private car stopped, The New Paper said.

    Mr Wong, 25, said he got in only when the driver said he was an Uber taxi driver.

    Uber is a system that connects passengers to drivers through a phone app.

    "I was still a little sceptical and asked how much the fare was. I was told $9 and a set fee of $6 for Central Business District charges. I agreed," he said. But the charges rocketed during the journey, he said.

    "The driver asked if I would have boarded if a limousine cab had come by. When I said no, as it would have been expensive, he replied that his is an executive car and he charges $7 per kilometre. I was taken aback," he said.

    Mr Wong said he had not agreed to the charges and asked to alight at Novena Square. "When he said I owed him $37, I paid him $10 and told him if he wanted the rest, he should come (out of the cab and get it from me). He just drove off," Mr Wong added.

    Mr Wong said he tried to make a report with the Land Transport Authority (LTA), but to no avail as there was no physical evidence.

    Uber is a cashless service and passengers must sign up for an account, which includes registering their credit or debit card. All rides booked through Uber's phone app are charged directly to a customer's credit card. Physical cash is never exchanged between a passenger and driver. No street hails are involved.

    Netizen Amo Jov, whose real name is Joverst Lee, 22, shared his bad experience with the same car on Facebook.

    He, his wife and their two young children boarded the car after they had waited for a taxi along Beach Road for a long time. They were going to Woodlands, and boarded the car only after the driver said he was from Uber.

    The man used an iPhone app to record the metered fare and asked Mr Lee to search the Internet if he did not believe the driver. "After that, the driver said the metered fare was $3.90 upon boarding and $0.70 per km," Mr Lee wrote.

    But after less than half an hour, Mr Lee noticed that the "meter" on the smartphone app had shot up to over $50.

    By then, the car was on the expressway. Mr Lee asked the man to drop them off nearby. The driver stopped at a remote area around Yio Chu Kang and asked to be paid $97, Mr Lee wrote. Not wanting to endanger his wife, three-year-old daughter and newborn son, he paid up.

    On turning to social media, Mr Wong said: "Based on previous experiences, the police will ask me to go to LTA or Small Claims Tribunal, as there wasn't much proof. I was told no receipt, no case."

    LTA said it has received complaints against the vehicle owner and "takes a serious view of the incidents". "The vehicle was impounded on Monday and the case is under investigation," said LTA.

    It is understood that a 29-year-old man linked to the car is assisting the police in investigations into an alleged case of criminal breach of trust.

    Under the Road Traffic Act, it is illegal to use, rent or hire out a private car to convey passengers for reward.

    Offenders could face up to six months in jail, be fined up to $3,000 and have their vehicles forfeited.