Ride-hailing scam targeting customers in the South Loop

FOX 32 / SUN-TIMES - Two customers of ride-hailing services fell victim to a scam and had their money stolen in two separate incidents within the last month in the South Loop.

In both incidents, the driver of the ride-hailing service picked up the customer in the same type of vehicle the customer had requested through their cellphone app, such as Uber or Lyft, according to a community alert from Chicago Police.

The driver took the customer to their destination, but then said the transaction did not process and told the customer to manually enter their debit or credit card information, police said. The driver then asked for the customer’s PIN number.

Immediately after the trip, the driver headed straight to an ATM or currency exchange and withdrew cash, police said.

The most recent scam happened about 2:10 a.m. Oct. 18 in the 800 block of South Wabash, while the other incident occurred at 11:22 p.m. Sept. 29 in the 2000 block of South Michigan, police said.

"That's kind of crazy and that's scary it doesn't make me want to use Lyft right now,” said Morgan Ray.

Police say both scams appear to be the work of the same man.

“It makes me feel unsafe because down here everyone walks so everybody has to use Uber or Lyft to get around,” Janae Zambrano said.

Janae Zambrano uses ridesharing apps about three times a week and says this new scam has her worried.

“I would tell him no, he already gave me the ride, he should've told me before,” said Manny Patelidas.

To prevent this from happening, passengers can double check the license place and driver’s information with their app.

Most ridesharing users that FOX 32 talked to say they've had nothing but good experiences with drivers, but are also always on alert.

“That's not surprising in this day and age, but certainly I’m a little skeptical of people all the time,” said George Shinn.

The driver is described as a black man, thought to be between 35 and 39 years old, police said.

Anyone with information on the scam is asked to contact Area Central detectives at (312) 747-8384.

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