Uber drivers in Lagos have been discovered to be using a fake GPS app called Lockito to inflate rider fares.
Lockito, an android app created for developers to “test geofencing-based apps,” allows drivers to track a false route while the phone also keeps track of the actual route.
The drivers who spoke to Quartz Africa revealed that the use of the app began after Uber slashed its base fare by 40%.
“Uber was sweet, until they slashed the price. They did not bring back their price up, so the work started getting tough and tougher. When the thing was just getting tougher, I had no choice but to go on Lockito,” one driver, Williams said.
“There are a lot of drivers on Locki, every driver on Uber is on Locki. The only ones that are different are the new drivers… and they’re still coming to us to teach them Locki.”
He uses the app 4 to 5 times a week, he said.
The way Lockito works, a driver may have the app calculating a fake fare from the pick-up point to the drop-off location, even before the rider is picked up. When the trip begins, the real GPS app calculates the original fare. When the trip is over, the two fares are tallied up as one, inflating the price, in some cases, 3 times.
Uber says it is aware of the abuse, and it is in violation of the company’s guidelines.
The company’s spokesperson Francesca Uriri said the company is “constantly on the lookout for fraud by drivers and riders who are gaming our systems.”
Another driver, Uchenna, who spoke to Quartz asked that Uber return to the former base fare if they want drivers to quit using Lockito.
“If you block that same Lockito today, another one will come out.
If that base fare is normal, everybody’s receiving their incentive on a normal level, that thing will go off. They want to get the normal, accurate price that Uber were before,” Uchenna said.
Williams also said that Uber is aware its drivers are using Lockito, but are unconcerned because they wish to maximize profits. He said:
If you’re using Lockito, Uber will tell you “fake location detected”…they will tell you.
Sometimes when I run it, Uber will tell me, “your map of your location…is fake,” you’ll now click OK… and I take my money…
Uber debunked this allegation. Uriri said:
Uber has automated rules in place that warns and permanently deactivates any account or accounts associated with fraudulent activity.
We encourage both riders and driver-partners to rate their journey at the end of the trip. Honest feedback helps ensure that everyone is accountable for their behavior.
However, Taxify, the ride sharing app’s largest competitor in the country, has been blocking drivers attempting to use the app. Williams said:
You can’t do that anymore on Taxify, they were doing it before on Taxify but then Taxify made drivers update the app, once you update your app, you can’t use Lockito anymore.
The drivers are asking that their welfare is considered. Williams said: “I pray Uber should learn from now. This is Nigeria, not abroad, the more things are getting worse, the more drivers are planning things.”