Indonesian Online Taxi Investment Scam (Part 2)

At the beginning of March, North Jakarta Police Department knocked on our door asking for the ownership of a car. That specific car has been hold as a proof of criminal in their office. It was very shocking to us. Later that day, we called the Car Rental as our car operator. She said that according to their GPS, the car is still running on the field of Jakarta. Hearing that, one our staff loses her calm and wreaked all havoc on the telephone. Turns out, they did not even know that the car was in the police office. Their voice began to tremble. We would like to meet them in the police office to take care of this problem.

For the last two months, the car rental has also paid only close to quarter of the amount of money promised in our contract. They also tried to prevent us to meet with all of the drivers and to inspect routinely on our cars. The only time they paid full and on time is when my uncle asked his personal staff to push their payment. The rest is of course peanuts.

Upon arriving, the police officers told us that our car has been given by a man named Irwan Manaf to a victim. Let’s call the victim as Mr.Z. So this Irwan Manaf offered online taxi investment scheme to Mr.Z where Mr.Z provide cars for Irwan Manaf, and Irwan Manaf provide Mr.Z with drivers. Mr.Z ended up trusting three cars to Irwan Manaf. But Irwan Manaf also paid only peanuts to Mr.Z. Not rich enough to cover for the monthly credits, Mr.Z came to Irwan Manaf and decided to pull all of his cars. Irwan Manaf told Mr.Z that all of the cars are running on the field and blab la bla blabla. In the end, Irwan Manaf gave Mr.Z a car as a guarantee that he will paid all the money due and return Mr.Z’es car. That car, was unfortunately ours. Curious Mr.Z decided to check the real owner of the cars as he was also afraid to be deemed as stolen car broker. In the end, police officer knocked on our door.

The modus operandi of Irwan Manaf was thought to dig-and-cover. Basically, Irwan promised one investor let’s say Rp 5,000,000 a month. Next, he found a driver to give him Rp 5,500,000 a month. So he made Rp 500,000 from one car. This was actually quite common way before online taxi era in Indonesia said the police. However, this Irwan Manaf is still on the wanted list. The police advised us to call the Car Rental and told them to come to the office.

Ow dear ow dear, how they tried to avoid the meeting. Thousands of excuses. By the way, they mentioned before that the name of the driver assigned to the car was Iwan. Similar name ay? In the end, they came near midnight and the police started to investigate them.
In the next 60 minutes, they lied a lot. Having GPS on the car for example. Iwan’s fee has been nice. Their only business process is operating with drivers. Iwan’s area of operation is around Depok and Bogor. They inspect the cars routinely. And so on.

After the investigation and we looked at the car that has been hold, the police put his doubt on the car rental. He told us that the car rental might probably one of the syndicate members. So for the best of our business, we need to pull all of our cars first before doing anything rash. We also investigate each of our cars and driver to find out more about the truth.

Turns out that this Car Rental only got 9 drivers for our cars. Around 4 cars, they rented without ownership contract. The other 5 cars were rented through contract with companies for their employees. Yup, the one car that was held in the police was one of four cars. It took the car rental three weeks to get us all of our cars. The first week we asked for our cars, they were able to present 9 cars with 9 drivers. Of course they were very nervous entering the second week since we still wanted to pull all of our cars.

Amid the second week, they finally told us the truth about contracts and their drivers also told us the truth. These drivers were asked Rp 5.000.000 in advance before they could drive. It is not a deposit that will be returned to them at the end of contract. It’s more like a joining fee. I think, it was the Car Rental’s intention to acquire these cars at the end of the five years contract.

Entering the third week, our side had started to show our intention to take this problem into legal area. They panicked even more. Once, they even tried to pacify us by saying that they were related to some polices and law enforcer. Oh sun of a gun! This is starting to get ridiculous.

All the logical fallacy aside, this is certainly not the first time that my uncle’s company faced legal problems. And certainly this Car Rental knows no boundary. Yo, pick someone else your own size. Y’all look like Kevin Hart picking on Dwayne Johnson.

Certainly it is not finished, but I don’t think I am going to tell you much about the ending (it is still on progress). Probably through some tweets later. But hey, justice!

Well, how’s that for sharing economy? Probably online taxi startup should take a look at these investment scheme as their own business. It will not only become safer for investors, but also for drivers and the sake of keeping it ‘sharing economy’.

Intended to be peer to peer, ended up business to business. Welcome to Indonesia.

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