A former Uber contractor apparently learned the hard way there's no such thing as a free ride … or a free lunch.
The 25-year-old California man pleaded no contest on Monday to felony grand theft charges in a case involving more than $25,000 in stolen rides and food delivery, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office. The news was earlier reported by the Bay City News Service.
The contractor was issued a password that allowed him to access Uber's computer system to issue $25,543 in credits to himself, family and friends between February and May 2016, the district attorney's office said. The credits were used to pay for Uber rides as well as take-out from the UberEats food-delivery service.
Contradicting earlier reports, Uber said the man was neither a driver nor employee. The company said it reported him to police after learning of the theft.
"He was a temporary contractor who worked on Uber's business for a few months in 2016," Uber said in a statement late Tuesday. "As part of his job responsibilities, he was authorized to issue credits, but once we detected the abuse, we shut down his access and reported the theft to law enforcement."
The former contractor, a resident of Colma, was arrested in October. He now faces six months in jail under the terms of his plea deal. However, the court may reduce the charge to a misdemeanor if he makes restitution.
Update, 8 p.m. PT, Adds Uber statement and revisions to correct defendant's employment status.
Update, 3:25 p.m. PT: Adds confirmation from the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.