How Does This Work? Indonesian Ride Hailing Scam Discovered

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Four men have been arrested for a ride hailing scam in Indonesia. The difficulty is in working out how the scam worked. For they were drivers for the app, they were booking fake rides. OK, that’s fine, we can see that this means they were listed as making more rides.

But how did they make money out of this? The app itself isn’t going to pay out commission when it hasn’t received funds itself. Or at least, no one sane would design an app to do so. So, what’s the missing bit here to make the scam make sense?

The Jakarta Police have arrested four suspects for allegedly placing fake orders on ride-hailing app GoJek over the course of two months. Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said that all the suspects, identified as RP, 30, CA, 20, RW, 24, and KA, 21, were registered GoJek drivers. They were arrested at the Taman Duta Mas shopping avenue in Jelambar, West Jakarta, on Feb. 1.

OK, scamsters arrested. But what is it they were doing?

He said that each suspect had registered up to 30 fake accounts, from which they could make Rp 10 million (US$678) per person per day. The suspects manipulated the GoJek system to make the fake orders. “In the GoJek application, it looks like they were serving passengers while in fact they weren’t,” Argo explained.

OK, so, they register orders and thus don’t have to serve them. But how were they making money? For, as above, surely the app doesn’t pay out if it’s not receiving revenue to go with those orders.

Did they have stolen credit cards which they then used to pay for the booked rides? Or is there some incentive scheme in place? Perhaps the app is in fact offering free rides to first time customers or something?

There’s something we don’t know here, something vital to understanding how the scam actually worked. Why were they, how were they, earning money for not giving rides?