JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Grab Indonesia, the Indonesian branch of the Malaysia-based ride-hailing app, said fake bookings placed by some of its drivers may have cost it millions of dollars.
Grab's head of country public policy and government affairs, Tri Sukma Anreianno said the losses affected drivers, investors and digital economy players.
He did not specify any figures, but according to the Central Java Police, Grab's financial losses, over a six-month period before March, reached 6 billion rupiah (S$584,00) due to fake orders placed by a so-called ghost driver syndicate in Semarang.
The syndicate allegedly manipulated Grab's ride-hailing app to fraudulently gain financial benefits, the Antara news agency quoted police as saying.
The Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef) revealed in its latest survey on the ride-hailing industry that about 81 per cent of motorcycle and cab drivers manipulated orders to reach their targets.
Performance targets are used by Grab and homegrown ridehailing app Go-Jek to calculate monetary incentives for their drivers.
The survey, involving 516 drivers as respondents, was conducted in Jakarta, Bandung and Bogor in West Java and Yogyakarta and Semarang in Central Java from April 16 to May 16.
It showed that about 61 per cent of drivers were aware that their colleagues manipulated orders to get incentives.
To resolve the issue, Tri - who is better known by Ano - said Grab had declared war on fake orders by initiating a campaign called "Grab Lawan Opik" (Grab against fake orders). It has also developed a tracking system using algorithms to detect fraud committed by drivers.
He added that the campaign had reduced fake orders by 80 per cent within 12 months of its launch last year.
Ano said Grab had reported 10 syndicates to the police for placing and receiving fake orders as well as designing and selling fraudulent technology systems.
The syndicates operated in many cities, including Jakarta, Semarang and Makassar in South Sulawesi.
"If we don't nip it in the bud, the number of fake orders could reach 20 per cent of the total orders in South-east Asia," he said during a discussion on fake orders held by Indef in Jakarta recently.
Go-Jek spokesman Michael Say told The Jakarta Post that it had also taken firm action against fake orders. Go-Jek, for example, will fire anyone found guilty of such offenses.
Drivers were encouraged to report their colleagues involved in the scam via the Go-Jek app and call centers.
"As soon as we receive a report, we will investigate and verify it in less than an hour," Michael said.
Indef 's survey also showed that 42 per cent of the drivers canvassed said the Go-Jek app had the most fake orders, especially the motorcycle service.
A lot of drivers said Grab was strict when it came to tackling the issue, with 64 per cent saying that it severely punished drivers caught placing fake orders. About 37 per cent said Go-Jek was not serious about tackling the issue.