Grab's rival Ryde lodges police report over ‘phantom bookings'

Ride hailing platform Ryde has lodged a police report against recent attacks on its platforms involving fake accounts and “phantom bookings”, which has cost its drivers more than SG$50,000 in loss of income. In a statement, Ryde explained the incidents had increased over the past six weeks, with close to 300 fake accounts and 2,000 "phantom bookings" being created – causing disruption to drivers.

Drivers subjected to “phantom” bookings often take up a trip booking only to find no passenger waiting at the pickup location. For some drivers, “phantom” bookings also involve abrupt passenger cancellations when the driver is closer to the pickup location. On top of filing a police report, Ryde has also notified the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore, National Private Hire Vehicles Association and Land Transport Authority.

Ryde said it found “compelling digital evidence” that the source of these fake accounts and bookings pointed to IP addresses, and It added “Digital evidence indicate that a majority of these fake accounts and ‘phantom bookings’ originated from locations in Midview City and The Herencia.”A quick check by Marketing also found Midview City and The Herencia to be the office locations of Grab and the now-defunct Uber.

In a copy of a police report seen by The Straits Times however, Ryde claimed it had traced the IP addresses to three companies, with one of the addresses belonging to Grab, its ride-sharing rival.  In a statement to Marketing, a Grab spokesperson said it was “investigating the matter”.

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According to Ryde, such manipulations of the app have “distressed affected drivers”, impacting their means of livelihood. On top of losing money on fuel, the incidents also “severely limit” the drivers’ availability to take on more jobs by as they are driving around in vain when they could have been picking up legitimate riders.

Ryde added that it will take all necessary actions to ensure that drivers who depend on the platform for their income are not affected. In the interim, it is also conducting user audits to eliminate fake accounts and informing drivers to watch out for and report the incidents.

Marketing has reached out to Ryde for additional details.

Ryde revealed plans to launch its private-hire car service in March this year following Uber’s Southeast Asia exit and acquisition operations by Grab. The company at the time had a combined fleet of over 55,000 drivers comprising both private cars and taxis. On top of Ryde, India-based Jungnoo and Filo Technologies both revealed plans to enter the private-car hire services in Singapore amidst anti-competitive concerns arising from the exit of Uber.