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Uber riders beware: Drivers increasingly accused of 'vomit fraud

A new "vomit fraud" scam by some Uber drivers has customers on high alert. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

It's no secret that Uber drivers often transport passengers who have had too much to drink, and with that drivers can expect the occasional guest to spill something (or worse) in their vehicle.

But in such instances, the drivers can demand a significant upcharge — typically anywhere from $80 to $150 — from the client after drop-off; and it's causing a number of Uber drivers to now be accused of what's been called vomit fraud.

Yuck. What's the scam?

A number of Uber customers told the el Nuevo Herald that they'd been scammed by drivers who claimed the passengers had puked while being driven, and even provided pictures of the vehicle's soiled interior as "evidence," but the accusations were completely false.

Even one el Nuevo reporter had the same thing happen to her, only worse: She had ordered an Uber ride to an airport, and not only did the driver never show, the journalist was slapped with a $16 charge for the trip (which never occurred), another $6 cancellation charge, plus a $150 cleanup fee.

In each instance, victims of the vomit scam say Uber has initially defended their drivers, but gave in after several emails and insistence by the accused.

Andrea Perez explained that after she received one of the unexpected puke fees, she "immediately contacted Uber through the app. I told them that I was alone, sober, that I was not carrying any drinks and that it was impossible for me to have caused that damage.

"But every new email from Uber came from a different representative and always favored the driver."

When the el Nuevo reporter complained to the company, Uber sent her two pictures of what appeared to be throw-up in the seat of a vehicle — but again, she had never been in the vehicle of the driver who accused her.

What does Uber have to say about it?

Uber officials insist that a "vast majority" of cleaning fees charged by drivers were legitimate, stating that "with 15 million trips a day, Uber is unfortunately not immune to these types of incidents."

But in an interview with CBS Miami last year, vomit fraud victim Crystal Drake suggested: "My advice for other people would be to take a video when you get out of your Uber."

One last thing…
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