Uber fake vomit scam New York
A New York Uber driver has been accused of putting fake vomit in his taxi in an attempt to scam a passenger out of $200 for a clean-up charge. Reuters

An Uber user has accused a driver of planting fake vomit in his taxi in order to charge her $200 (£140, €180) for a clean-up fee that she claims is all part of a scam.

Meredith Mandel, an art director from Manhattan, got a shock bill the morning following a $19 (£13) Uber ride, with the app asking her for $200 to cover a clean-up charge. When Mandel queried the charge she was told it was because someone in her party of three had been drunk and "made a mess on the trip". The driver then supplied photos of the scene showing bright yellow vomit splattered over his dashboard and on the rubber foot mat.

It was at this point that Mandel realised she was being targeted with a fraudulent claim, as not only did she claim that no one was drunk, let alone threw up in the car – not one of the party even sat in the front seat where the vomit was pictured.

To further add to her claim that the driver was trying to pull a fast one she listed everything the group ate that evening and none of it have matched up to the luminous yellow colour of the sick in question.

Mandel also points out the "vomit" was placed onto parts of the car that could easily be cleaned off – the plastic dash and rubber mat – and when she was told all of the money goes to the driver she put it altogether. "I was infuriated, because I realised that it actually is a scam," she told the Gothamist. "At first I was trying to actually give them the benefit of doubt, but I realised [it] because all of the money goes to the drivers."

Further false clean-up charges

To cast further doubt on the whole incident there have been several reported incidents of Uber drivers in Florida and California of falsely attempting to charge passengers for making a mess in their cars — including one who was charged $100 for bringing rain water into the car.

After arguing her case Mandel with this evidence she was able to get the $200 charge retracted and an Uber spokesperson said it would "make sure to take appropriate actions". The Gothamist spoke to an anonymous Uber driver who admitted it's more than easy enough for drivers to pull off the fake vomit scam: "I wouldn't be surprised if some Uber drivers used that as a scam," he said. "We're human beings, and unfortunately, human beings are capable of anything. But all that to collect $100, $200 dollar cleaning fee? That's a new low."