Rideshare driver attempts to extort money from Mid-South grandmother

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Mid-South man says a rideshare driver picked up his elderly mother and tried to extort money from her.

Sheila Maloney’s son tries to do whatever he can for his mom, as she has COPD and doesn’t get out much.

“She’s in declining health for sure,” he said.

That’s why he and his wife have her over for dinner at their East Memphis home about twice a week.

To do that, he usually orders her a Lyft ride, which is exactly what he did Monday, and when the driver brought her over, she didn’t notice any issues.

“She said he was great — a nice guy,” he said.

But soon after, they realized the 75-year-old woman had left her cell phone in the Lyft car.

Maloney used the app to report the phone missing, and the app acknowledged there may be a $15 fee for returning a lost item.

When the driver called him the next day, he acknowledged there would be a fee, but it wouldn’t just be $15.

“He had his own fee he was asking for,” he said. “It turned out to a pretty substantial one. $150 is what he demanded.”

Maloney was shocked. He reported it to Lyft and sent WREG emails he got from customer service, saying they’d been in touch with the driver, but they’re limited in what they can do because drivers are technically “independent contractors.”

That’s when Maloney turned to Memphis Police to file a report for extortion. And MPD was able to help.

“One of the detectives called the fellow and explained to him it would be more trouble than it was worth, and he should return it to the precinct, which he did, and then we picked it up there,” Maloney said.

So his mom got her phone back, but he’s still frustrated, especially at Lyft. He thinks the company could’ve done more, like taken the driver off the streets.

And he knows elderly people are prime targets for people to take advantage.

WREG contacted Lyft to get any kind of response and find out if this driver will have any negative consequences. We’ll let you know if we hear more.

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