It’s a side hustle many in south Florida take on to make extra cash, but one south Florida man said he was taken for a ride.
An immigrant from Venezuela is out hundreds of dollars and out of a job after paying for a service that can be done for free.
Last May, after getting his work permit and social security card, Gustavo Rodriguez decided he would use his savings to buy a car.
He thought he could earn some extra cash as an Uber driver and started last October. But four months later, something odd happened.
On the Friday before Super Bowl Sunday, Rodriguez said he dropped off a customer at Miami International Airport. Shortly after dropping him off, Rodriguez said he got a notice from Uber telling him his account has been deactivated.
Uber told him the account had been deactivated because of a possible fraudulent document.
“The supervisor said it had to do with the license,” said Jenny Rodriguez, Gustavo’s wife.
After visiting the local Uber office in person, they were told something similar and then realized something was wrong with their paperwork.
On one of the documents, the driver’s license number was right, but the date was inconsistent.
Rodriguez didn’t come to the U.S. until 2018, but the paperwork said it had been transcribed in September 2016.
It also said the license was issued in September 2019.
The couple got on the Uber platform from another man, Leobardo Angulo, for a $400 fee.
“He paid the guy,” Jenny Rodriguez said. “He was working for Uber. All of a sudden he was deactivated.”
Uber said Rodriguez’ driving history was altered, which is why his account was flagged for fraud.
Uber added Rodriguez would not have qualified to be a driver because you have to have “a minimum of one year of licensed driving experience in the U.S.”
At the Doral business where the couple said Angulo works, Angulo admitted he filled out the Uber application for Gustavo Rodriguez.
However, he denied charging $400.
Angulo also said he never altered any information.
On Letgo, a buying and selling app, we found a “To go express” ad listing for those who want to rent cars to work with Uber, with Angulo’s name as the contact.
Angulo then admitted he charged Rodriguez $100 to sign him up for Uber, even though signing up is supposed to be free.
“In this particular case, we can tell that there were a number of accounts that were trying to be created using the exact same device, the same smart phone," said Melanie Ensign, Uber security communications.
Uber said that signing up to be a driver is free and users don’t need to pay a third party.
"Whether it’s your driver’s license, your vehicle registration if you don’t know this person you should be very skeptical especially if they’re asking you for money,” Ensign said.
Ensign added once people give up the information, it could end up in the wrong hands.
As for Rodriguez and his wife, they never got their money back.
“He’s done,” Jenny Rodriguez said. “He can’t ever drive for Uber again.”