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Hackers are targeting Walmart Spark drivers' accounts and using them to shop for the delivery service, drivers say

Alex Bitter   

Hackers are targeting Walmart Spark drivers' accounts and using them to shop for the delivery service, drivers say
  • Some Walmart Spark drivers say their accounts and identities have been stolen.
  • Spark confirmed to the drivers that someone else logged into their accounts and delivered orders.

Last month, gig worker Sherry Medellin tried to log into Walmart's Spark delivery app. She couldn't.

When she entered her username and password, the El Paso, Texas, resident got a message telling her that her account was logged into more than one device. Medellin said she's never used her Spark account on anything other than her smartphone.

Then came another realization: With help from an agent from the service's driver support line, she learned about several Spark orders that records said she had delivered — even though she hadn't.

"There's evidence of deliveries that I never took with Spark," she told Business Insider.

Medellin is among the gig workers whose Spark accounts — and identities — appear to have been compromised by others trying to gain access to them. Insider spoke with two other drivers who also said that someone else gained access to their accounts and used them to deliver orders for Spark.

The problem has popped up in about half a dozen posts in Facebook groups for Spark drivers over the last two weeks. In one post earlier this month in the "Spark Drivers Uncensored" group, another Texas Spark driver said that their location in the Spark app had been changed to North Carolina even though they hadn't changed locations.

After calling Spark support, the driver said they found out that someone else had used their account to accept and deliver 14 orders. The driver hadn't been offered or accepted any of them, according to the post.

"If you no longer receive orders, this may interest you," the post reads. "Call support and ask how many [offers] you have received."

Walmart has struggled with fraudulent Spark drivers

Walmart's Spark service has struggled to keep unauthorized drivers off its platform. Some drivers are using multiple accounts under names that aren't their own to deliver orders for Walmart, BI reported last year.

On social media, some users claim to sell accounts for Spark and other delivery services for hundreds of dollars — allowing people to work for the apps without disclosing their real identities to the companies or customers.

Walmart rolled out changes aimed at curbing that kind of unauthorized use, the big box store said last fall. For instance, drivers now periodically have to take a selfie, which Spark compares with the ID photo that the service keeps on file for the driver.

But the feature appears to be far from perfect. Some legitimate drivers told BI they were kicked off of Spark after trying to verify themselves, for example.

"We have comprehensive measures in place to prevent fraudulent activity, including preventing drivers from logging in from multiple devices under the same account, which is against the Spark Driver platform terms of use," Walmart told BI when asked about reports of unauthorized logins. "We continue to introduce new features to prevent fraudulent activity on the platform and strengthen our existing processes. Drivers should report any concerns to Spark Driver support so we can look into it further and take the appropriate action."

Walmart Spark drivers' identities are at risk.

The photo verification also hasn't solved the hacking problem. Another Spark driver in Texas, whom BI spoke with, said she called Spark support at the start of February after the number of orders Walmart offered her through Spark declined and her earnings dwindled to $40 a day, down from hundreds previously. The driver asked that BI not publish her name, citing fear that Spark would deactivate her account for speaking publicly.

The support agent on the other end tried sending her an order offer as a test. The driver never got it, but the agent confirmed that someone else using her account had accepted it — along with several other orders in the past two weeks. "That's when we realized something was wrong," the driver told BI.

The driver said she's since changed her Spark password. She hasn't figured out the identity of the person who stole her account, but the Spark support agent gave her one other detail: Whoever it was was picking up orders under her name at the same Texas store where she works. Most of the employees there know her by name, she told BI.

"These people who know who I am were giving them orders under my name," she said.

Do you work for Walmart Spark, Instacart, Uber Eats, or another gig delivery service? Reach out to this reporter at abitter@businessinsider.com


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