A fake Uber driver has been outted in Carlsbad, thanks to the same social media that makes the driving service so popular.
Rob Noel was recently visiting his Oceanside family for nine days. The 27-year-old Army veteran is a part-time Uber driver in Augusta, Georgia. On the evening of July 19, he took his sister to a Sub-Zero ice cream shop on Carlsbad Boulevard.
Noel noticed the car sitting in the parking lot with “Uber” posted all over it, including the license plates. “I thought it was an overzealous Uber driver,” he said. Noel’s sister, Cecelia, told him the driver and his car come through the drive-thru restaurant where she works all the time.
Suspicious, Noel called the phone number listed on the back of the vehicle and the driver’s cell phone rang. He then went over and talked to the driver, later identified by 10News as Prince Reza Shah. Shah claimed to Noel that he worked for the real Uber.
Noel took pictures of the car and its unusual advertising, thinking perhaps it was some new Uber marketing idea for the San Diego area.
Thinking it over, he knew the only way to order an Uber ride was through the company’s smart phone app, not from a website or phone number. Later, he found the website posted on the car was fake. So, the next morning, Noel posted his photos on a private Facebook page for Uber drivers. The post read, “Saw this in Oceanside last night. What’s up San Diego?”
On July 21, 10News investigative reporter Emily Valdez was alerted to Noel’s questioning post from a viewer who said he saw it on Twitter. For her story, Valdez actually ordered an Uber ride from the phony company, requesting a pick up in Carlsbad. According to the report, the person on the other end of the phone, identified as Shah, confirmed, yes, he was from the real Uber.
After arriving for the pick up, the female driver, not Shah, said a friend had told her to pick up the passenger. The driver agreed to a $40 fare to San Diego, not using the Uber app.
After confronting the driver, 10News’ Valdez reached Shah by phone, and he hung up on her.
It wasn’t until Noel was back home in Georgia on July 23, when he became aware of what his post had started. 10News’ investigation found Shah had been in trouble before. He had been successfully sued in federal court by the City of Carlsbad for illegally using the city’s golf course logo, and trying to profit from it. 10News also reported he has used 30 other aliases.
Of the incident, Noel, an eight-year Army vets says, “People need to remain vigilant and situational aware, as there are bad guys everywhere.”