Gojek has warned of a suspected scam in which riders are duped into thinking they are paying a fixed, low fare for rides via a third party
No fixed low fares through middlemen, says Gojek, warning of scams on social media Gojek said it is investigating the suspected scam and would be submitting a police report on the matter. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Indonesian ride-hailing firm Gojek has warned of a suspected scam in which riders are duped into thinking they are paying a fixed, low fare for rides.

Those who take the bait could end up paying the actual fare on top of what they had already paid to the unknown third party.

Gojek told The Straits Times it is investigating and would be submitting a police report on the matter.

Checks by ST found Gojek rides for $12 being offered by anonymous middlemen, regardless of the distance involved or surge pricing.

These offers are circulated on social media, and are likely to have started early last month. ST found at least one commuter who was conned by the false promise of a lower fare.

In response to queries, a Gojek spokesman said on Tuesday (May 7): "We are aware of a suspected scam taking place over WhatsApp, Facebook and Telegram where fraudulent Gojek rides are being offered.

"This is not in any way associated with, or authorised by, Gojek."

ST attempted to book a ride through four middlemen but was told by two that the deals were no longer being offered and had no response from the others.

In the scam, interested commuters were asked to message their booking details to a mobile number, and received in return a screenshot of a Gojek booking confirmation. Commuters were asked to make payment through PayNow to the third party instead of Gojek once they got into the car.

An advertisement from one middleman read: "We only partner with Gojek currently. Fares are fixed, no negotiation, and please do not pass cash to the drivers as our bills are calculated with Gojek directly."

Another message offered "package deals": a package of 10 rides would cost $100, 20 rides, $190, and 30 rides, $280.

Among the platforms the deals were advertised on is the SG Hitch carpooling Telegram group, which has more than 11,000 members.

In a message to the group on Monday, administrator Yuan Tim warned against the "high level of scam" arising from such bookings, and said: "We are working something out with authorised middleman to assist in booking in another way."

He asked members who receive unsolicited private messages to report them to the group administration.

Account manager Ms Lee, 27, who declined to give her full name, ended up having to pay a much higher fare than the deal she thought she had landed, after submitting a request to the SG Hitch group for a driver at about 1.30am on April 23.

A middleman offered to book her a $12 Gojek ride to take her from Jewel Changi Airport to Jurong. He asked for the payment to be transferred to him once she got in the car, and stopped responding after Ms Lee said would pay only at the end of the trip.

Ms Lee ended up paying $50 for the fare, when the driver asked for cash payment at the end of the ride. Gojek rides can be paid for by cash or credit card, and this is agreed when the ride is booked.

"There might be people who will transfer the money before the end of the trip, and they would have to pay the original fare and an additional $12 to the middleman," she said.

"It was quite dangerous because it was really late and I was alone in the ride. The person who booked the ride was uncontactable, and I didn't know if the driver was part of the plot or not or what was his intention."

Undergraduate Ji Ying, 23, had a similar experience last month when a middleman offering a flat-fare Gojek ride made a cash payment booking for her and asked for a separate mobile payment. Smelling a rat, she paid only the driver in the end.

She added: "I actually wasn't aware that it was a middleman thing until quite late into the transaction. It was just very shady."

A Gojek spokesman said on Tuesday that Gojek users should book their rides directly through the app to avoid any scam. Users can report any suspected fraudulent activity via report.sg@go-jek.com.