London’s transit authority is attempting to boot Uber from its streets as the ride-sharing giant insists that it’s making the changes necessary to prevent driver fraud.
“Fraudsters’ schemes are ever-evolving, which is why Uber is committed to constantly updating and strengthening our processes to protect against them,” spokeswoman Alix Anfang told the Herald in a statement Monday. “Our fraud detection teams use both manual reviews and automated machine learning systems, which analyze more than 600 different signals to look for fraudulent behavior.”
Transport for London cited “several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk” in its decision not to extend Uber’s license. Among other things, unauthorized and imposter drivers carried out thousands of rides, the regulator said.
Anfang added, “Over the last several months, we’ve implemented new processes and technology to prevent fraud and improved agent training as we continue working to stay ahead of the latest scams. With regard to the specific issue in London, we have since implemented a series of technical and operational fixes, which have been changed globally.”
Uber called London’s decision “extraordinary and wrong,” and has 21 days to file an appeal, which it said it would do. It can continue operating during the appeals process.
In the latest decision, the transit authority said it was concerned Uber’s systems “seem to have been comparatively easily manipulated” by drivers.
One key issue was a change to Uber’s systems allowing unauthorized drivers to upload their photos to other driver accounts. That let them pick up passengers as though they were the booked Uber driver on at least 14,000 trips, which means all those journeys were uninsured, TFL said.
Uber said among its various changes, drivers will have to more actively confirm their identity by blinking, smiling or turning their head — part of recently announced beefed up safety measures.
Dan Ives, managing director at Wedbush Securities, said, “Regulators around the world are going to scrutinize this issue, peel away the onion and make sure there are no similar issues.”
In the U.S., safety advocates have criticized Uber for conducting less-thorough background checks on drivers than traditional taxi companies, which generally check drivers’ fingerprints against databases.
— Herald wire services contributed to this report.
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