Orange County Ridesharing Passenger Warns of Disturbing Fraud

February 3, 2021 Updated: February 5, 2021

A Rancho Santa Margarita woman is warning others about the unscrupulous tactics of some ridesharing drivers after she says she was hit with a bogus charge.

Ashley McClure told The Epoch Times that she’s fallen victim to a scam that’s been circulating throughout the country for years: Vomit fraud.

The Better Business Bureau is among the agencies that have warned the public about the troubling trend. Drivers have taken advantage of passengers by posting fake photos of vomit in their car, and charging passengers up to $250 in cleaning fees.

A 2018 Miami Herald article reported that numerous Uber passengers were suing the company for fraudulent charges related to vomit fraud.

It seems the latest victim hailed might have been in Orange County.

Lyft sent me these photos of somebody else’s vomit—which was disgusting—in somebody’s car,” McClure said Feb. 3. “I don’t know if it was even his or not. It was just two close-up pictures of vomit. And they weren’t even panned out; you can’t even see what the car looked like.”

McClure, from Rancho Santa Margarita, said she fell prey to this scheme after meeting a friend for dinner at Halves Boiling Pot restaurant in Foothill Ranch.

After the check arrived, she took a 10-minute ride home with Lyft.

McClure said she knew something was wrong when the driver called McClure and requested $9 since he needed to cross a toll road to get to her.

“He’s not supposed to ask for money. He asked me for $9 before I even got to the car—from a previous ride,” McClure said. “It is a very odd request, and they’re not supposed to ask for money for rides previous to yours. That’s his own decision if he takes a toll road to come pick me up.”

The next day,  Jan. 31, McClure received a notification that she had been charged $150 in “damages.”

She filed a complaint with Lyft, to which they replied with pictures of vomit in a car.

McClure said she has a 4.9 out of 5 star rating on the Lyft app, with nearly 450 rides with the company, but has never experienced something like this before.

“I rated him zero stars, and I said ‘poor customer service,’” she said. “I’m so disappointed in the lack of ethics some people have.”

As she works to dispute the charge, she said the experience has taught her a tough lesson.

“At least for the immediate future, like I’m taking pictures before and after [the Lyft rides].”

Lyft didn’t immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment, but did comment on a similar case in Cleveland, Ohio, where a passenger said she was fraudulently charged over an alleged blood stain.

The company sent a statement, saying: “We take damage disputes such as these very seriously. Lyft’s support team investigates each incident individually and makes a determination based on the evidence available.”