The city crime branch arrested three Ola cab drivers for allegedly duping customers for over a year. The accused were allegedly using an older version of ‘Ola Partner’ app, a driver side interface of the cab service. The older version was easy to manipulate and resulted in hyped fares, said police.
Around 50 other cabs currently running on city roads are indulged in such malpractices, said the crime branch officer.
Acting on a tip-off, the Crime Branch Unit 1 sent a person posing as a customer in one of the cabs and after confirming the malpractices, the cops arrested the trio on Monday. The app these drivers were using was last updated in October-November 2019 and it was easy to manipulate. The latest version of the app did not allow such manipulations, said a crime branch officer.
These drivers generally accept only long distance rides such as to Nerul, Sanpada, Kharghar, Kamothe, Kalomboli and Panvel where they can get higher fare.
“During the ride, the drivers used to switch off the GPS system for a while at several locations such as Santacruz Bridge, Vashi bridge Govandi bridge and so on. It was repeated a couple of times. Whenever they switched on their GPS, the app interprets it that the car has been diverted by the customers and adds several km extra and accordingly customers were charged extra,” said Vinay Mer, senior inspector of Crime Branch Unit 1.
With such malpractices, 35-40 km will be added to the customers’ bill and subsequently the fare will go up by a few hundred rupees, he added.
After identifying the flaw in the app, the main accused has sold the app to several others claiming he had made the app. Before selling the app, the accused locked it so that it cannot be sold again and also locked their play store so that the app doesn’t get updated which would make it defunct, added Mer. In their language the app was called a ‘Fire app’ as its shoots metre reading.
“The accused has allegedly sold the app to fifty others and after learning about the case the drivers who are currently indulged in malpractices are likely to destroy their phones or update their apps, as a reason we are maintaining secrecy and trying to trace the others,” said Mer.
The accused have been arrested under section 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and will be produced before the court on Monday.