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Scammers seek to profit from Uber, Lyft shortages in Las Vegas

Updated April 12, 2021 - 7:32 pm

With Uber and Lyft drivers in the Las Vegas Valley in short supply, some residents are now illegally taking advantage of the situation.

There have been reports on social media of motorists posing as Uber and Lyft drivers at McCarran International Airport’s ride-hailing pickup areas and offering people rides not clocked on the companies’ apps.

Lyft driver and Twitter user BobbyGsGambling tweeted Wednesday night that he saw people standing outside their cars posing as ride-hail drivers and offering rides for cash while he was making a pickup at McCarran’s Terminal 3.

“Total scammers, very dangerous,” BobbyGsGambling tweeted.

McCarran spokeswoman Christine Crews confirmed the practice has been occurring at the airport recently and said that taking those drivers up on the rides could pose a safety risk.

“There are people who are trying to capitalize on the fact that there’s long wait times (for rides) and the shortage of drivers,” Crews said. “So we want the public to be aware, anybody that’s traveling that if they choose to take somebody up on one of these offers they’re really setting aside all of the measures that have been taken to make sure that’s a safe transportation option.”

As the Road Warrior reported last week, the number of ride-hailing drivers in Las Vegas has dropped significantly from a year ago, frustrating visitors and residents trying to get a ride via Uber or Lyft.

State data shows the number of active ride-hailing drivers across Nevada is less than half of what it was a year ago. As of March 30, there were 13,723 active ride-hailing drivers across the state, compared with the 36,482 active drivers reported by the state on March 13, 2020.

That has opened the door for those looking to profit from the situation.

Crews said patrols of McCarran’s ride-hailing pickup areas have increased — and so has the number of those violating the Clark County ordinance that prohibits the solicitation of fares.

“We have those areas monitored at peak times of day,” Crews said. “But (with) the steady increase of travelers to Las Vegas occurring there’s just been so much activity that we’ve certainly seen an increase in the number of citations being issued for this kind of behavior … We’re monitoring the area, but at points we can’t be everywhere at once.”

Nevada Transportation Authority spokeswoman Teri Williams said the agency also has been cracking down on the illegal practice, not only at McCarran but along the resort corridor.

“Off app and cash rides are an ongoing focus for state transportation enforcement officers,” Williams said.

Drivers who are caught providing cash rides can face a hefty fine and possibly lose their vehicle.

“Drivers soliciting off app or cash rides can be fined up to $10,000 and can incur additional fines if their vehicle is impounded,” Williams noted.

With the increase in those looking to make a quick buck while driver counts are low, airport officials are pushing the message out to travelers, looking to keep them safe while they visit Las Vegas.

“We’re trying to create more awareness around it with our social media messaging and in-terminal messaging as well,” Crews said. “We really want to make sure that riders are aware.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter. Send questions and comments to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com.

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