Some Uber drivers in Lagos have been using a fake GPS itinerary app to illicitly bump up fares for local riders.
Initially created for developers to “test geofencing-based apps,” Lockito, an Android app that lets your phone follow a fake GPS itinerary, is being used by Uber drivers in Lagos to inflate the cost of their trips.
In some cases, inflated trips can cost riders more than double the rate they should be paying. “It’s more like a parasite,” says Mohammed, a driver for both Uber and Taxify in Lagos. “It sets the false GPS movement while allowing the phone also to keep track of its actual movement. The Uber app can’t tell the difference between both so it just calculates both.”
When a driver uses Lockito for an Uber trip he or she can have the fake GPS running (and calculating a fake fare) from the pickup point to the drop off location, before the passenger has even got into the car. When the real trip starts, the real GPS starts running and calculating the actual fare. But at the end of the journey the fares from both trips (real and fake) are tallied up as one fare which the unsuspecting rider pays.
Uber Nigeria is aware of the abuse of Lockito by certain drivers. Spokeswoman Francesca Uriri, said it is in violation of Uber’s guidelines and the company is “constantly on the lookout for fraud by drivers and riders who are gaming our systems.”
The drivers Quartz spoke with said Lockito or “Locki”, is simply a reaction to Uber’s 40% slash of its base fare implemented in May. Many drivers were unhappy about the price drop and there were a series of protests which had little impact.