Uber passengers in Hong Kong dupe drivers into stopping next to police in effort to report illegal ride services

Footage and photos posted to Facebook and LIHKG show passengers filming journeys and telling drivers to stop near police patrols. Police deny going undercover and say incident involved seven vehicles, adding no related arrests made or fines issued so far. — SCMP

Some Uber passengers in Hong Kong have attempted to trick drivers into stopping near police patrols in an effort to “spontaneously report” illegal ride-hailing services, according to a spate of videos that recently went viral online.

Footage and photos widely shared on Facebook and Reddit-like forum LIHKG on Thursday showed passengers filming their journeys and encouraging several drivers to stop at spots near Kai Tak Cruise Terminal where officers were patrolling.

“Please park behind the Benz and wait. The cop will come to greet you,” one passenger says in a video.

Police on Friday denied going undercover, but noted the incident had involved seven vehicles, adding that no related fines or arrests had been made so far.

The case was still under investigation, police said.

Although Uber has been in Hong Kong for nine years, ride-hailing services are illegal without a hire-car permit.

The local taxi industry has also voiced opposition to such illegal services and urged authorities to clamp down on the trade.

A source familiar with the case said on Friday that one of the passengers was a taxi driver.

The footage showed multiple private cars being stopped by police, with the drivers getting out of their cars to assist with the investigation.

A police spokesman said officers received a report at 4.35pm on Thursday from a man who alleged someone was operating illegal car-hire services.

The force arrived at the scene and took the details of the driver and vehicle involved, with the case currently classified as a “traffic complaint”. No arrests have been made.

Several drivers were encouraged to stop near police patrols around Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. Photo: Facebook/Bosco Chu

Transport Department figures showed there were 35 cases of vehicle seizures and licence suspensions over illegal ride-hailing services in 2022, compared with the 91 recorded in 2021 and 44 in 2020.

Legislation passed last December also introduced stiffer penalties against those caught offering such services, including Uber drivers.

The new policy doubles the maximum fine for first-time offenders to HK$10,000 (RM5,998 or US$1,281), with subsequent convictions requiring culprits to pay a HK$25,000 (RM14,996) penalty. – South China Morning Post

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