Fake Restaurants on Uber Eats? Las Vegas Lawsuit Targets "Imposter" Kitchens

Vegas Restaurants Sue Uber Eats Over Alleged "Imposter Kitchens" Scheme

Vegas Restaurants Sue Uber Eats Over Alleged "Imposter Kitchens" Scheme

Imagine ordering your favorite pizza online, only to receive a completely different dish – and have it billed under the familiar name of a reputable restaurant. This nightmarish scenario is playing out for Las Vegas residents, sparking a major lawsuit against Uber Eats.

According to 8 News Now, four Las Vegas establishments claim a years-long scheme involving "imposter restaurants" on Uber Eats. 

Esther's Kitchen, Babystacks Cafe, Manizza's Pizza, and Gaetano's Ristorante allege these fake businesses used their names and reputations to sell food through the app, causing significant financial losses.

“The Uber Defendants set the app up in this manner intentionally to harm small restraint businesses, including Plaintiffs, in an effort to take up more of the local restaurant market share as these local restaurants were pushed out due to the impact of this fraud and conversion,” the lawsuit says.

A web of deception and profit

The allegations paint a disturbing picture:

  • Knowingly Enabling Imposters: Uber Eats allegedly allowed virtual kitchens to impersonate real restaurants on its platform.

  • Complicit Delivery Drivers: Delivery drivers are accused of being complicit, picking up food from these imposters but delivering it as if it came from the real restaurants.

  • Profiting from Fraud: Uber Eats allegedly took a 30% cut from each fraudulent transaction without verifying the legitimacy of the restaurants.

The lawsuit estimates that over 1,000 Las Vegas restaurants may have been affected by this scheme. Each plaintiff seeks damages exceeding $15,000, with additional unspecified damages claimed.

Beyond fraud: The "RICO" twist

The accusations go beyond typical fraud. Uber Eats, its delivery drivers, and unidentified individuals are accused of racketeering under Nevada's RICO laws. Originally used against organized crime, RICO allows for harsher penalties in cases involving ongoing criminal enterprises.

The setup “resulted in parties creating false identities that co-opted known restaurants brands and identities … and allowed unknown individuals to siphon business for themselves using the goodwill created by the actual business owners,” according to the plaintiffs.

Uber Eats responds: A patchwork fix?

Faced with the lawsuit and negative publicity, Uber Eats has taken some steps:

  • Pausing new virtual kitchen applications only in Las Vegas.
  • Requiring new businesses to provide licenses and physical address proof.

However, these measures may be a case of too little, too late. The complaint raises serious questions about Uber Eats' ability to ensure platform security and protect consumers from deception.

Justice for duped restaurants and consumers

This class action lawsuit could have significant ramifications for Uber Eats and the virtual restaurant industry. The court's handling of the racketeering allegations and whether Uber Eats can demonstrate a more robust verification system will be key issues to watch.

One thing is clear: Las Vegas restaurants and consumers deserve a platform free from deception. This lawsuit seeks to hold Uber Eats accountable and ensure a fair playing field for everyone involved.

The plaintiffs are represented by Kimball Jones of Bighorn Law.

The Uber Eats fake restaurants class action lawsuit is Babystacks Cafe et al v. Uber Technologies et al, filed in the District Court of Clark County, Nevada.



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