This Is How Ola Drivers Are Cheating You By Manipulating Fares: 3 Arrested In This City
Mumbai Police, in its charge sheet filed earlier this month, revealed that 33 app-based cab drivers, other than the three arrested for manipulating software to hike fares, also manipulated the app to illegally hike fares at various levels.
The charge sheet which had 400 pages, charges three while mentioning other 33 cab drivers who were guilty of the same. While 3 of them were arrested, police is gathering evidence against the others.
The three accused, are also the alleged mastermind Ashish Panchal (37), Rajesh Acharya (42) and Afzal Shah (39) and were arrested on November 1 and charged under sections of cheating and common intention.
Jayesh Thakur, investigating officer Assistant Inspector as a part of its probe tracked the fares of 36 cabs affiliated to Ola for two years between January 1, 2019 and December 15, 2020 across Mumbai. Police said they calculated cases in which there was substantial difference in the estimated price displayed when a cab was booked and the actual fare charged at the drop off.
Duped 31 Lakhs Over Two Years:-
Over the period of two years, this difference between estimated and actual fares of these 36 cabs was Rs 31,44,489, which in terms of percentage is a hike of 17.96 per cent above the legitimate fare. They added that 20 percent of this amount, i.e. Rs 6,28,897 went to Ola.
A senior officer said “However, it does not mean that this entire amount was illegally hiked. In some cases, a customer could ask the driver to extend the ride to some other place. This could lead to a higher actual fare vis-a-vis the estimated price displayed for the initial destination by the app”.
Loophole In The Older Version of App:-
There was also a problem due to the app. Police, said a certain section of this hike was due to drivers switching the older version of the Ola app on and off while driving below bridges or flyovers. Due to the glitch in the app, it would show the cab was below a bridge even if it was on top of it. As a result, switching it on and off while crossing bridges would force the app to recalculate and increase the distance covered, leading to increase in the actual fare.
In the charge sheet, police said it was Acharya among the three who first spotted the loophole and informed other cab drivers. He also ensured that the Ola app on his phone was not updated as newer versions did not have the bug, and he would then charge money to provide the older version of the app to other cab drivers.
The three accused were arrested on November 1. The scam came to light after a team of the Crime Branch (Unit 1) received a tip-off about the operation at Mumbai airport, mainly on trips to Panvel. Eventually, when police found the cab drivers tinkering with the apps.
Statements of seven passengers, who were cheated in a similar manner have been added in the charge sheet submitted before the court.
Whether or not any there was involvement of any Ola employee, is still being investigated by the Police.
A senior officer added that “If we find the involvement of any employee, we will be filing a second chargesheet. We are also trying to gather evidence against the other cab drivers involved in the scam and may name them in the second chargesheet”.