Exclusive: Fake rideshare signs could lure passengers into wrong car

NEW YORK (WABC) -- An Eyewitness News exclusive exposes the hidden danger of popular ride-sharing apps.

Just over a month ago, a college student from New Jersey was kidnapped and killed in South Carolina after getting into a car she thought was an Uber.

We wanted to know how easy it would be for someone to pose as a driver and the results were shocking, revealing a disturbing market for fake rideshare signs.

They look real. They light up, have the same font and same icon. But the fear is that the fakes would give someone ordering a car a false sense of security.

Lawmakers have just passed laws to make rideshare signs mandatory after the murder of a young woman who made an honest mistake.

"There's no perfect way to regulate that, there's a lot of wackos out there," said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.

It was surprising to us to see how easy it was to go online and buy the bogus signs and how good they looked once they showed up.

Fulop and the City Council just passed a law that rideshare cars must have signs. It is one step but he also stresses that given the fakes, it is obviously not enough.

"Make sure that the car is a Lyft or Uber, whatever you called, then match obviously the driver and the license plate," said Fulop.

In South Carolina, State Representative Seth Rose pushed for strong laws mandating signs. He wants legitimate companies to wake up.

"If you're dealing with public safety you need to take a little responsibility," said Rose. "You can get the counterfeit merchandise off the internet very easily."

We reached out to Lyft and Uber about the fake signs using their names.

Lyft said "Lyft directly provides Lyft Amps to drivers. The sale of Lyft Amps on third party platforms is unacceptable, and we are actively working with online marketplaces to eliminate this practice."

We reached out to Amazon, from which we ordered the signs, and an Amazon representative said sales of items like this are not removed unless a company being copied complains.

After we inquired the fake signs sites were removed online.

"If I was expecting, I don't know what car that is, I'd be like, oh great, my lift's here," said one man.

So many of might say that. Instead, do what one rider said: "I wouldn't get in a car unless the license plate matched the app."

Be safe. Be sure.

----------
* Follow us on YouTube
* More local news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
Copyright © 2019 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.