June 29, 2018 / 5:19 AM / 18 days ago

Singapore police investigate 'phantom' ride-hailing bookings

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore police said on Friday they are investigating a complaint from Ryde Technologies, a new entrant in the city state’s competitive ride-hailing business, that alleged fake bookings were made on its app.

Ryde said its drivers had reported nearly 300 fake accounts and 2,000 phantom bookings since mid-May.

“Such manipulations of the app have distressed affected drivers as their means of livelihood have been impacted,” Ryde said in a statement on Thursday.

Singapore police confirmed on Friday that Ryde had filed a complaint and investigations are ongoing.

New entrants have sprung up in Singapore after ride-hailing firm Grab acquired the Southeast Asian business of rival Uber Technologies this year.

Though barriers to entry are relatively low in the ride-hailing sector, analysts say new entrants need to scale up quickly to compete with Grab.

The issue of fake bookings has emerged in other markets.

Uber sued Indian competitor Ola for $7.5 million in 2016, accusing it of creating fake accounts and making false bookings to interfere with its business. Ola has denied any wrongdoing.

Ryde said it had notified the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore and the Land Transport Authority about the fake bookings. Both regulators confirmed they are aware of Ryde’s complaint.

“On top of causing drivers to lose money on fuel, these acts severely limit the drivers’ availability to take on more jobs as it sends them driving around in vain when they could have been picking up legitimate riders,” Ryde said.

Reporting by Anshuman Daga and Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Darren Schuettler

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