Blog Editor’s Note: We have seen an increasing number of reports of drivers for taxi and ride-sharing services spoofing GPS/GNSS in order to increase the amount of work they get. See this item about Grab drivers, for example. There have even been reports from Russia about identity theft and more sinister uses in the ride sharing world. This article from last year provides a good summary of the challenges faced by ride-sharing companies.
Gaming the System
More and more, drivers are going to airports or other hot locations that have a FIFO Queue, only to find that there are seemingly dozens or even hundreds of drivers already there.
What many drivers don’t realize is that some, or even most of those drivers are not in fact at that location, they are GPS Spoofing.
What this means is that they are tricking the ridesharing platform, be it Uber, Lyft or any of the others, into thinking that their car is somewhere it is not.
Here’s how drivers are gaming the system. Note that I have never actually done this myself. But after talking to and reading about many drivers in addition to my own observations, this is the information I can pass onto you.
First, they spoof their GPS location to an airport and log into Uber, this gets them into the queue effectively starting the timer on when they’ll get an airport run. Airport runs tend to be long and profitable.
Next, they log into a separate account on a second phone. This may be on a separate platform such as Lyft.
Now they can accept trips and make money, while at the same time they’re in line at the airport instead of having to sit in a parking lot waiting.
They make their way to the airport before they become next in line, usually with a 20 to 30 minute buffer to insure they don’t miss their spot.
Once there, they disable their GPS Spoofer on the first phone and take their airport run.
At some point they spoof their GPS location on the second phone to the airport so they can do it all over again. They can repeat this for as long as they like.