Uber driver leaves woman stranded 75 miles from home on trip back from hospital

by Christy Wilcox, KSNV

Tuesday, December 27th 2016

LAS VEGAS (KSNV) — Holly Tennant said she ordered an Uber driver to get home after getting out of Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center, but halfway to her home in Lake Havasu, the driver told her he wasn't going any farther. Tennant ended up at the Las Vegas hospital after suffering complications from multiple surgeries she had had over the past few weeks, including removing a decade-old lap band.

The closest hospital able to treat her during the Christmas holiday was in Las Vegas.

An ambulance took her from Lake Havasu to Las Vegas, but when she finished recovering two days after she had arrived, the only way she could get home effectively was to order an Uber.

"Just seemed like the logical thing. I could lay down and someone else would drive," said Tennant.

Tennant said her husband is caring for her 94-year-old mother and 11-year-old son with autism; having them pick her up wasn't an option. She said she was feeling good on Christmas Day when she left the hospital. After arranging for the driver to take her home, she fell asleep in the back seat of the Dodge truck. Tennant said when she woke up she was at the Chevron gas station in Palm Gardens, Nevada – both 75 miles from Las Vegas and still 75 miles from her home in Lake Havasu. She said after arguing with the driver, he gave her an ultimatum to either drive back to Las Vegas or get out of his truck and call another driver. After fumbling with the app, she discovered her lack of cell service would not allow her to get another driver, and went inside the gas station.

"He said, 'I am not going to take you further. If my phone doesn't work, I am not getting paid,'" said Tennant.

A worker at the gas station helped take care of her until her husband arrived to pick her up two hours later. Vance Vogelheim, who saw her during his shift, said they see stranded people at the gas station often and help customers who break down or don’t have gas money to go any farther, but this was an experience he has not yet had.

"There was a lady sitting here with a pillow and some blankets and some other items. She was waiting for a ride, she was stuck," said Vogelheim.

Tennant paid for her partial trip and canceled the second half, which would have cost her an extra $89. Her husband picked her up hours later.

An Uber spokesperson said distance and location are what the driver and rider agree on, and released this statement:

"We are saddened to have learned the details described about this rider's experience as she attempted to travel home to be with her family for the holidays. Riders who use Uber expect reliable, high-quality service from their drivers. We’re disappointed when an experience does not meet that standard, and we’re working to resolve it.”

Uber said it is currently reviewing the situation. The company added that after every trip, both drivers and riders are able to rate their experiences, which helps keep all participants accountable.


Portland man gets $140 Uber charge for East Coast ride he didn't take



Kyle Iboshi

Portland, Ore. — Jonathan Woolworth took one epic Uber ride. He traveled 83 miles from Boston, Massachusetts to Storrs, Connecticut. The ride cost him $140.92.

Just one problem: Jonathan Woolworth was sitting at his desk in Portland, Oregon. 

His Uber account had been hacked.

“I looked at my phone and was like, Boston to Connecticut?  Ah, haven’t been there in a while,” said Woolworth.

The Portland man’s case helps illustrate how cybercriminals are hijacking Uber accounts to take free rides, or “ghost rides.”

“I’ve had personal information stolen before but I was never freaked out like this,” said Woolworth. “It was on my phone.”

A KGW investigation found stolen Uber accounts and passwords for sale on the online Black Market. 

One seller offered hacked Uber accounts for $6.99 each. 

Other sellers offered stolen passwords for Netflix, HBO GO and other subscription-based services. “Fast deliver, no problems,” read one review. 

“If there is a customer willing to pay for it, then there’s going to be a market for it,” explained technology security researcher Ken Westin.

It’s unlikely the stolen account information came from a massive data breach at Uber, explained Westin.  Instead, cybercriminals likely harvested the stolen information from phishing attacks. 

Crooks will send a password reset link by email or text, fooling customers into sharing sensitive information.

If the bad guy gets access to one account, they can sometimes hack into many more.

“Always assume that you are going to be breached. One account is going to be breached at any given time,” said Westin. “You can reduce that risk by having separate passwords for each one of those websites or services.”

Woolworth recalled receiving a realistic-looking notification from Uber just before his account was hacked. It asked him to reset his account information.

“It had the little Uber icon and it said, ‘Uber needs you to update your personal information. I was like, okay, no big deal,” said Woolworth.

After he realized his account was hacked, Woolworth emailed Uber.

One of the perks of Uber -- not having to deal with a real person – was problematic for Woolworth. He couldn’t reach a real human being; instead, he had to file a complaint through email.  

“They really didn’t understand the human interaction or the human frustration,” said Woolworth.

Uber said it appropriately handled the situation.

“We responded to him and refunded the trip the same day. We also helped him reset his password and secure his account,” said Uber spokesperson Melanie Ensign in an email to KGW.

To avoid having your accounts hacked, here are a few tips:

1.    Use a different password for every account.

2.    Change your password at least once a year.

3.    Watch out for requests to reset passwords. Typically, they’re bogus.

4.    Monitor your accounts and report any suspicious activity.