10 e-hailing drivers conned by same man

KUALA LUMPUR: An act of kindness turned out costly for a taxi driver who lent his mobile phone to a passenger to call for help.

Azahari Ahmad, 56, ended up with a phone bill of about RM1,000 as his personal data is believed to have been used to gain access to make contactless payments.

“On Feb 23, I picked up a passenger from Kuchai Lama who wanted to go to Subang. During the journey, he said he left his mobile phone in a shop and wanted to get back there to retrieve it.

“However, the shop was closed when we arrived. So he wanted to borrow my mobile phone to call his friend, ” he said.

Azahari passed his phone to the passenger, who was seated at the back. The passenger made a call to his friend, who did not pick up.

Azahari did not suspect anything amiss after dropping him off.

But soon, his telco provider alerted him of a raised credit limit from RM500 to RM1,000 with several online transactions made.

Costly fare: Ng addressing the issue of drivers being cheated by a passenger at Wisma MCA. — AZMAN GHANI/The StarCostly fare: Ng addressing the issue of drivers being cheated by a passenger at Wisma MCA. — AZMAN GHANI/The Star

“I have never increased my credit limit or bought anything through my phone account, ” he said.

As for e-hailing driver Jackson Chong Kaw Keong, he also had a similar encounter on March 4 at Seksyen 7 in Shah Alam.

In Chong’s case, his SIM card was switched.

“I only realised something was wrong when I called my wife, who asked why I was using another number.

“When I tried to sort it out at the telco centre, I was told that the SIM card in my phone was registered to someone else, ” said Chong, 47.

He got a shock when he saw his phone bill came up to RM1,200 on March 8.

Both Azahari and Chong were at a press conference by Campaign to Protect the Rights of E-Hailing Drivers spokesman Ng Kian Nam at Wisma MCA here yesterday.

Also present were Persatuan Kebajikan Pekerja Industri Ehailing Malaysia chairman Masrizal Mahidin and Koperasi Ehailing Maju Bhd chairman A. Thiruna.

Ng, who has received about 10 similar complaints from taxi and e-hailing drivers, believes Azahari’s phone was cloned to make contactless payments using the near-field communication (NFC) feature on his phone.

(NFC technology allows mobile phone users to make secure transactions, exchange digital content, and connect electronic devices with a touch. It can also be used to connect with wireless devices and transfer data with Android Beam.)

“All the complaints traced back to the same person based on the details and descriptions given by drivers.

“The victims’ phone accounts were used to purchase credits at online gambling websites, ” he said.

Ng said that checks with other e-hailing groups found that the culprit had registered fake accounts on e-hailing apps to approach drivers and lure them with supposed long-distance trips.

“In one case, the man promised to pay the e-hailing driver RM2,500 for a two-day trip to Butterworth last November but he actually ran away at the end of the journey, ” he said.

Ng said he would seek help from the police to speed up their investigation.

When contacted, Malaysian E-hailing Drivers Association president Daryl Chong said that he had come across similar cases among drivers in the last few months.

He explained that NFC payments are done by utilising the NFC technology to exchange data between readers and payment gateways, which include chargeable purchases under the telco provider, which happened to the driver.

“It is likely that the scammer had taken the driver’s phone, turned on the NFC function and immediately cloned the phone’s details into his own phone.

“We normally use NFC for contactless payment by having both devices nearby, ” he said.

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