Fake Uber Rides and Millions in Money Laundering

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(Bick Bhangoo) #1

The gig economy is a feasting ground for cyber crimes and money laundering operations. These operations included the AirBnB scam from 2017 where fake house owners would set up a page in Airbnb, and fake customers would place an order, then pay for the said order and even write reviews. Through this method, criminal elements were able to launder millions. Since Airbnb has thousands if not tens of thousands of sites around the world, and Airbnb is not the only site that offers house sharing opportunities, the sheer magnitude and distribution of orders will cover up any such scam laundering operations within the system.

The rideshare app is not immune to such actions, and in a recent fraud that was uncovered, "ghost rides" were a source of millions for a money laundering operation. The Uber method is quite simple and involves drivers that are willing to earn a bit of cash while covering up their actions. With a lot of drivers in on the deal, a money laundering operation can basically provide a very safe service for a very unstable industry. The drivers basically take on fake rides, when they get paid they stake a small cut and pass on the remaining cash to the middleman, who transfers the money in bulk to the organization behind the scheme.

The reason why money laundering through gig economies is considered to be so lucrative is due to the lack of operational expense that is usually needed to set up an infrastructure for a major operation. Another reason is that gig economies are global, and this enables operators to set up global operations, allowing them the ability to transfer funds across borders with ease.

The success of gig economies is the success for money laundering operations. As companies grow in size, such as Uber and Didi, who perform billions of dollars' worth of rides annually in multiple locations around the world, it is easy for criminal organizations, as well as terrorist financing groups, to latch onto such economies and use them to further violence, crime and the trade of illicit resources.

In reality, the Uber and Airbnb operations are a major headache for anti-cyber crime organizations that cannot sift through the billions of daily transactions and pinpoint what is real and what is fake. The main issue is the right to see details, and this is an invasion of privacy. The bottom line is that cyber crime and companies such as Uber have to develop in-house registers that flag patterns that might develop into signs of cyber crime in action.

Over $200 billion a year in the US alone is attributed to cyber crimes made via online e-commerce. Gig economies such as Uber and Airbnb increase this significantly.


(Andrew Martin) #2

Yup, it is, they are, and will be a form of money laundering for years to come. If Uber were to add payment by cryptocurrency then ridesharing would become the main source of funding for all of the worlds criminals and terrorist cells.