Teenager admits exploiting loophole to cheat taxi company of S$2,600 for 117 cab rides

Teenager admits exploiting loophole to cheat taxi company of S$2,600 for 117 cab rides

ComfortDelgro taxi booking app
A person using the ComfortDelGro taxi booking app. (File photo: ComfortDelGro)

SINGAPORE: A teenager exploited a loophole in a mobile application's payment system and over the course of a week, cheated ComfortDelGro into giving him and other people 117 cab rides worth S$2,600 for free.

The 18-year-old, who cannot be named under the Children and Young Persons Act as he was under 18 at the time of the crime, admitted to the offence on Monday (Sep 21).

He pleaded guilty to one charge of performing a computer function to commit an offence of cheating.

The court heard that the teenager, who was 17 at the time, downloaded the ComfortDelGro taxi booking mobile application on Oct 29 last year and created an account.

He linked his debit card to the NETS Click payment method and booked a ride. As he had sufficient funds in his bank account for the ride, the taxi booking was approved by Comfort.

However, while waiting, he used the same debit card to buy items from a convenience store, leaving him with insufficient funds to pay for the ride.

He expected to see a negative value in his bank account after the ride, but was surprised to find that the cab fare had not been deducted. 

Suspecting there was a loophole, he booked another ride through the app with the NETS Click method, before transferring money out of his bank account. 

Again, the fare was not deducted from his bank account due to insufficient funds. He used this loophole to earn a profit, advertising cheap taxi rides on a Telegram group chat called SG Hitch, offering cheaper taxi rides than shown in the ComfortDelGro app.

Exploiting the loophole, the teen took money from his "clients", but did not have any money deducted from his account. Instead, ComfortDelGro incurred the losses.

By creating multiple fictitious accounts to use the loophole, the teen managed to book a total of 117 cab rides for himself, his friends and his "clients".

ComfortDelGro incurred a loss of S$2,598.60 for the rides and the teenager has not made any restitution, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Bjorn Tan.

The cab company lodged a police report on Oct 29, 2019, after its bank alerted it to fraudulent transactions.

After filing the report, ComfortDelGro did internal checks and found that the fraudulent transactions were linked to taxi bookings made via its booking mobile app.

In response to queries from CNA, Comfort DelGro's group chief corporate communications officer Tammy Tan said NETS provided assistance in the investigation after it was informed by the company.

"We were later informed by the police that the cardholder had been arrested. Since then, we have taken further measures to prevent a recurrence of such an incident," Ms Tan added.

The judge called for reports to assess the accused's suitability for probation and reformative training.

He will return to court for sentencing on Sep 29. For his computer crime, he could be jailed for up to 10 years, fined up to S$50,000 or both.

Source: CNA/ll(hs)

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