Some Uber Drivers are Using a Fake GPS App to Bump Up Cab Fare in Nigeria

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Uber NavigationIt has been reported that some Uber drivers in Lagos, Nigeria are using mock-up GPS apps to increase cab fare for the locals in the West African state.

It should be noted that most of e-taxi apps use the same process to calculate cab fare, even though GPS data has proved inaccurate in some instances. This is something most of us have experienced, where you can be on one side of the street but the GPS indicates you are on the opposite end of the same street. Some of these errors cab be attributed to compromised satellite signals where tall building and Wi-Fi connections interfere with signal transmission.

The GPS app in question is known as Lockito that was primarily developed for the Android platform to allow a user make his or her phone ‘follow a fake itinerary, with total control over the speed and GPS signal accuracy.’ The app can also be used to simulate static location. However, its developers created it for other developers who need to test geofencing-based apps.

According to Quartz, some drivers are using Lockito to double cab rates by setting a false GPS movement. At the same time, the app allows a device to keep track of real movement, and since the Uber app cannot tell the difference between the GPS system in action, it calculates the fare for both.

What this means is that a driver fires up the Lockito app, leaves it running as it calculates fare before pickup for a trip. When a customer gets into the vehicle, the real GPS system starts counting. As the trip concludes, fare from both GPS apps are combined.

Nigeria’s Uber branch has acknowledged the existence of this dubious behavior by driver partners, and is ‘constantly on the lookout for fraud by drivers and risers who are gaming the system.’

Part of the reason the app is tricked is based on its ability to allow the selection of a GPS system/app to be used. At the moment, the American e-taxi app does not have a native GPS system. However, it bought deCarter to stop relying on Google Maps for navigation purposes.

Drivers who have embraced the cab-hailing apps have not been a happy lot. A few weeks ago, a local go-slow was observed where drivers disputed the slashing of base fares and increased offers that affected their daily returns. Uber, for instance, tried to curb the outcry by launching UberSELECT that was perceived as some form of incentive for highly-rated drivers.

It is highly probable that Uber is cooking a solution for this abuse, which can be in form of an update that detects the running of two GPS apps to nab culprits. We will update this post once we get wind of any developments.

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Kenn Abuya is a friend of technology, with bias in enterprise and mobile tech. Share your thoughts, tips and hate mail at [email protected]