It seems that congratulations are in order for Uber, Lyft, and other chauffeur/taxi applications out there because when something like this makes its way to network television, and on a brand new show no less, one can only reach the conclusion that it has gone mainstream. This week’s episode of CSI: Cyber focuses on the dangers of this extremely popular trend when a passenger, Cade Matthews, an employee for a private military contractor, working on secret government projects, uses an Uber-like application called ZoGo and is killed via strangulation and electrocution from a stun gun by a nameless driver. This all happens after the driver that was supposed to pick Cade up, Sam, cancelled the ride as a no-show.
I liked how Cade tried to use the pizza method that was used by a domestic abuse victim in order to get help from the police. Shame the operator didn’t get the hint as she was telling Cade that he has dialed the wrong number and asked if he had a real emergency to report. I also applaud Cade for deleting all of the top secret information on all of his devices before he was murdered in case the killer wanted the information.
The scene where Nelson and Agent Mundo talked about their taxi preferences was very chuckle-worthy. Agent Mundo prefers normal, harmless taxis, while Nelson prefers to use ZoGo because it’s cheaper than a taxi and the fare includes the tip amount for the driver. However, I have to agree with Assistant Deputy Director Sifter when he said that using applications like ZoGo and using their services is like playing Russian Roulette, after Agent Ryan said that the car that picked up Cade Matthews might be a ghost car masquerading as a ZoGo car; you never know when serious harm might come your way. I also agree with the fact that even though technology has made life easier, it certainly has not made it any safer. Cade Matthews was a first-time ZoGo user, so when he saw the car with the ZoGo sticker logo, he trusted the application and got into the car, no questions asked, and he ended up losing his life.
I liked the storyline of this week’s episode seeing as how it was based on real life issues that have come up with these Uber-like applications. Like the scene where Nelson and Agent Mundo went to talk to the CEO of ZoGo, they found that ZoGo did not perform thorough background checks on their drivers; in fact, the company employs drivers who are ex-criminals with long rap sheets, which led to customer complaints and bad ratings for the application/company on Yelp.
The team then began to track down the real killer after the taxi service owner Agent Mundo arrested was not the killer, as he didn’t know what Agent Ryan meant when she mentioned the toy blocks which were placed in the victim’s mouths. After some fine cyber detecting later, the team tracked down a man named Richard Davis. They searched his apartment for any clues that might lead them to the killer and found a small shrine dedicated to a young boy named Michael, Richard’s son, who was killed by a ZoGo driver in a hit and run.
The driver who committed the crime then fled the country to avoid being charged with murder and Richard, upon knowing this, wanted to avenge his son’s death. The remaining toy blocks, numbers five through seven, wer found stacked as part of the shrine in Richard’s closet, meaning that there would be more victims; blocks three and four were gone, which meant that Richard was out there, about to kill again. I understood that Richard wanted ZoGo be brought to justice for what their driver did to his son, but that’s still no reason to go out on a killing spree, taking the lives of innocent people just for the sake of revenge.
We then learned later in the episode that Agent Krumitz’ parents were dead, shot during a convenience store robbery gone wrong, and that he and his sister Francine did not have the best brother-sister relationship because of it. Krumitz seems like a great guy, and it was saddening to see his face go from anger at his sister’s tardiness to disappointment when Francine said that she couldn’t testify when she showed up at the courthouse because it hurt too much to remember the day that their parents died. She just wants to forget that it ever happened and move on with her life.
When Richard found that his fake ZoGo account had been closed and that he could no longer pose as a ZoGo driver, he left his phone in the car that he used, with the picture of the third victim on it, and began going after actual ZoGo drivers (his fourth victim being a ZoGo driver named Dante) by pretending to be a ZoGo user/passenger. I thought that this was kind of weak in terms of the plot considering that his act of revenge was misguided to the point where he thought that taking the lives of innocent, unsuspecting passengers (or ZoGo drivers) counted as payback/justice for the death of his only son.
I’m glad that Dante decided to be smart and not do anything dumb in a bad situation when he pointed out to Richard, as he was being held at gunpoint, that speeding away from the cops would only attract more attention to them. Also, kudos to Raven for hacking into the city’s traffic light system in the name of solving the case and catching the killer, of course, to stop Richard from going any further.
At the end of the episode, the team went to a bar to celebrate, and Agent Krumitz got a call from the prosecutor from the parole trial of the man who shot and killed his parents saying that the man was being released. It was a truly heartbreaking scene, but at least he has some good friends who will do anything to help him.
The Batman reference from Nelson was spot-on given that Batman also lost his parents at a young age. In all, this episode was interesting to watch, and it’s nice of the writers to teach us new terminology every episode. The term for this week is phishing, and we must tread with extreme caution if we see any suspicious emails that might trigger malware and possible viruses.
What did you think of this week’s episode of CSI: Cyber? Do you or have you ever used services like ZoGo?
[Photo via CBS]