Commuters are reporting a suspected ride-hailing scam where an unidentified driver of an SUV is allegedly posing as their booked driver.
One of the latest victims was theater actress Justine Peña. tweeted about her experience when she booked a ride from SM North in Quezon City.
MODUS WARNING at SM north. While waiting for my ride, a driver pretends to be a grab. I’m on the phone looking like I’m calling a driver, and he rolls down the window pointing to his phone, briefly showing an app open.
“Ma’am yung car niyo. Booking Po?”
— Justine Peña (@jus_pena) January 22, 2023
In the Twitter thread, Peña shared that she was waiting for her wife Nica del Rosario to pick her up at the mall when a car suddenly stopped in front of her.
“MODUS WARNING at SM North. While waiting for my ride, a driver pretends to be a grab. I’m on the phone looking like I’m calling a driver, and he rolls down the window pointing to his phone, briefly showing an app open,” she said.
The driver then asked her, quoting: “Ma’am yung car niyo. Booking po?”
Peña declined his offer. She informed the driver that she was waiting for her wife.
The driver, however, was insistent.
“I said no since my wife was picking me up, but he wouldn’t let [me] up. He kept briefly showing his phone and saying ‘yung booking niyo po,’ all the while, looking really pleasant. Then he switched to ‘san kayo papunta’ saying he’ll just bring me there,” the actress said.
Peña described the vehicle as “a black, SUV with dark tinted windows.”
“[I] didn’t go near it so I couldn’t see the plates,” she said.
Peña advised commuters to stay vigilant when booking ride-hailing apps.
“I know how often I autopilot getting into a ride when I’m tired, or asking for yes/no confirmation instead of deets [details] once I open the door (tbh car plates don’t always match the booking id) so I can imagine someone actually falling for this. Stay safe guys!” the actress said.
Footage captured by a commuter
Another commuter named Mc Cauley posted on Facebook the terrible experience he and his friends had with an SUV driver who posed as their Grab driver.
The commuter also managed to capture footage of this driver and the license plate of his car. He uploaded the photos and video on his post.
In his post, the commuter said that the incident happened while waiting for their Grab ride at SM North.
This was the same mall where Peña encountered the suspicious driver.
The driver of the SUV initially agreed to the Grab rate of P259. After at least 100 meters on the road, however, he suddenly changed the rate to P300.
The commuter and his friends refused to agree to the fare. They asked the driver to just let them out of the vehicle.
In the photos and videos, it was shown that the driver sped off when he dropped them off the road.
Transport agencies’ response
These reports soon reached the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and Land Transportation Office.
LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III warned the people behind these alleged scams to stop their operations because they affect the legitimate TNVS [transport network vehicle service] providers.
“I was really disturbed by these ‘scams’ allegedly perpetrated by unscrupulous individuals against ride-hailing app customers. If indeed they are doing it, they should stop immediately. It affects the business of legitimate ride-hailing apps and more importantly the commuting public,” Guadiz said.
He then advised them to apply for a franchise if they want to earn money as a ride-hailing app driver.
“There is always a right way in doing things, particularly when it comes to offering services to the public,” Guadiz said.
LTO, meanwhile, issued a show-cause order to the owner of the SUV identified by Mc Cauley in his post.
The driver involved could be held liable for several violations that could lead to his license suspension.