11 worst stories from Uber’s Year in Hell


Looking back over our coverage of Uber in 2017, the controversial subsidized taxi service based in San Francisco, it remains a wonder that this company survived what is arguably one of the worst years ever for a Silicon Valley startup. Stealing, lying, harassing, and bullying are just a few of the verbs that were associated with Uber’s year.

Along the way, we saw founder Travis Kalanick forced out and replaced by Dara Khosrowshahi as CEO. In between, we saw the most painful of CEO searches in which candidates either ran screaming from the chaos or were plunged into a humiliating civil war raging among board members.


Which means picking only 10 lowlights proved exceedingly difficult — ridiculously so. The appended list of runner-ups should attest to that.

But, without further delay, let us now relive the year that was for Uber, cringeworthy story by cringeworthy story:

1. Kalanick video: In late February, Kalanick was captured on video by the dashboard cam arguing with his Uber driver over declining fares. “To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement,” Kalanick wrote in an apology email to employees. “My job as your leader is to lead … and that starts with behaving in a way that makes us all proud. That is not what I did, and it cannot be explained away. It’s clear this video is a reflection of me — and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.”

2. Self-driving theft: Google’s self-driving automobile unit filed a lawsuit against Uber, claiming Anthony Levandowski, a former Google employee who founded the unit, downloaded 14,000 files from its hardware systems on his way out the door. Levandowski then founded Otto, a self-driving truck company, which was then bought by Uber. The suit claimed Levandowski and Kalanick hatched the whole plot together, something Uber denies. In any case, the accusation eventually led to one-time golden boy Levandowski being fired in May.

3. The blog post: For all the investigations and discussions into Uber’s Bro culture, it was a blog post published in February by a former Uber engineer alleging widespread sexism and harassment during her year working there that proved explosive. Susan Fowler wrote that her claims of sexual harassment by managers were repeatedly dismissed by the company, often with the excuse that her bosses were “high performing.” That led the board to hire former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct an independent investigation.

4. Greyball: Sweet fancy Moses. Uber apparently created a program called Greyball to avoid detection by authorities in places where it either faced harsh regulation or was banned. The New York Times broke the story, explaining that Greyball used data from its main Uber app to block local officials and remain off their radar.

5. CEO firing: The Uber board did the once unthinkable and forced out Kalanick in June. This came less than three months after the board gave him a vote of confidence.

6. Board fight, part I: VC firm Benchmark sued Kalanick and then went public with its reasons, following endless leaks. In a letter to employees, Benchmark wrote: “We know that many of you are asking why Benchmark filed a lawsuit against Travis last week. Perhaps the better question is why we didn’t act sooner… We are sorry that it has taken us so long to do the right thing.”

7. CEO search: A normally secretive process instead played out in public due to infighting by the board and incessant leaks. It got so bad that one finalist, HP CEO Meg Whitman, publicly took herself out of the running. Though she later apparently put herself back in the running and then lost out at the very last minute to dark horse Khosrowshahi. Whitman then publicly re-committed herself to HP. Then she later announced she was going to leave HP. Uber will make you do confusing things like that, I guess.

8. Board fight, part II: Hiring a new CEO brought approximately one nanosecond of peace. Ousted CEO Kalanick launched a power play to regain leverage on the board as the new CEO attempted to restructure it to limit the bad boy’s role. The result devolved into another display of public criticism from rival board factions, but it eventually ended with Khosrowshahi getting his way.

9. Losing its London license: Amid the distractions and chaos, someone forgot to make sure the lights stayed on. In September, a London transportation agency yanked Uber’s operating permits because it’s not a “fit and proper operator.” Also, the company was basically acting like jerk, the agency said: “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications.” I say!

10. Hack: In November, the company’s new CEO dropped a bombshell. The previous year hackers accessed personal data of approximately 57 million Uber riders and drivers — a hack that previously went undisclosed. Oops! Actually, “disclosed” is being nice. The company allegedly paid off the hackers to keep quiet about it, and then decided to keep it under wraps.

11. Spying: No respite of bad news in December thanks to the disclosure of a letter by a former Uber employee in the lawsuit involving Google’s self-driving car unit Waymo. According to the New York Times: “The 37-page letter, written on behalf of Richard Jacobs, a former Uber security employee, detailed what he described as the formation of separate internal teams designed ‘expressly for the purpose of acquiring trade secrets’ from major ride-sharing competitors around the world.”

For runner-up honors, we might mention in passing the Uber driver arrested in the murder of a British diplomat; SoftBank offering to buy shares at a price far below Uber’s previous valuation of $70 billion; a federal investigation into Uber’s actions in the Waymo case; a European Union court ruling that Uber was a taxi service and could be regulated as such; widening losses in the third quarter; a suit filed in San Francisco accusing the company of race and gender discrimination; the U.S. Federal Trade Commission sanctioning Uber for failing to protect users’ data and requiring it to undergo 20 years of audits; and being subject of a report indicating it has been sued 433 times so far in 2017.



Uber driver with criminal past arrested after British woman diplomat, 30, murdered, left by side of road


December 18th, 2017

A Lebanese Uber driver with “previous criminal violations” was arrested Monday in connection with the murder of a British diplomat, whose body was found on the side of a highway near Beirut over the weekend, according to officials.

Rebecca Dykes, who worked at the British embassy in Lebanon, was found strangled on Saturday after a night out with colleagues. A man was arrested at his apartment after authorities traced his car through security cameras that showed the vehicle traveling from Beirut to the area where Dykes’ body was found, officials said Monday.

The driver, whose name has not been released, confessed to killing the 30-year-old woman. Officials called the murder a “criminal act” that was not politically motivated.

Little information was released about the suspect, but a senior Lebanese security source told Sky News the man was an Uber driver. The ride-sharing company said in a statement Fox News that it is working with authorities in the investigation.

"We are horrified by this senseless act of violence. Our hearts are with the victim and her family. We are working with authorities to assist their investigation in any way they can,” an Uber spokesperson told Fox News.

Police are still investigating the cause of death and whether she was sexually assaulted.  

Dykes met friends and colleagues Friday night at a bar in Beirut’s Gemayze neighborhood, known for its restaurants and pubs where diplomats and journalists are often seen, Sky News reported. She left the bar around midnight, where the driver picked her up and drove her to a nearby neighborhood where she lived — but didn’t drop her off, Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said.

The man then tried to sexually assault her and strangled her with a rope before dumping her body on the side of the highway, NNA reported. Lebanese media added that marks were found on her neck.

When Dykes’ body was found, there were no items pointing to her identity and she had no money or a cellular telephone. Authorities released a drawing of her in order for people who know her to come forward and identify her.

Dykes, who was expected to flying home for Christmas on Saturday, had been working as a program and policy manager at the Department of International Development since January. Her social media page said she was from London, previously attended the University of Manchester and University of London.

Friends told Sky News Dykes was “a very cautious, astute and highly intelligent woman.”

“She had the highest level of security training,” the unidentified friend said. "I know she followed procedures, especially in the job she did. She was very charming, sociable and dedicated to her work.”

The friend added, “She wasn't the kind of girl to be walking around on her own. She was always in control.”

Her family released a statement saying they were “devastated” by the death and requested the media respect their privacy “at this very difficult time.”

"The whole embassy is deeply shocked and saddened by this news," said British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter in a statement, "Our thoughts are with Becky's family, friends and colleagues for their tragic loss."

The murder has shaken Lebanon, where such crimes, particularly against foreigners, are relatively uncommon. Beirut has been considered relatively safe despite recent chaos in the Middle East.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


Five state attorneys general are investigating Uber breach

Multiple lawsuits have also been filed in California and Oregon.

Mallory Locklear@mallorylocklear

11.24.17 in Security

Uber's latest security breach, which exposed 57 million customers' and drivers' personal information, has come under more and more scrutiny since it was revealed earlier this week. The Federal Trade Commission has already confirmed that it's looking into the breach as well as how Uber handled it. A number of agencies abroad are investigating the incident as well. But it doesn't stop there. Uber is also now under investigation by at least five state Attorney General offices and has been named in multiple lawsuits.

As the Washington Post reports, the attorneys general of Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut, New York and Missouri have all launched investigations into this latest egregious lack of data security as well as some Uber executives' decision to not report the breach and instead pay off hackers to keep them silent. The details of these investigations haven't been revealed but it's likely Uber broke a number of states' laws when it failed to notify its customers of the data breach in a timely manner.

The Washington Post also reports that at least three lawsuits are in the works. Those suits have been filed in California and Oregon and all three are seeking class-action suits against the company. In response to the breach and its mishandling, Uber's new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, has said, "None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it. While I can't erase the past, I can commit on behalf of every Uber employee that we will learn from our mistakes."


Uber hit with $8.9 million fine in Colorado for letting unqualified drivers on its platform

One driver was an escaped convict

by Andrew J. Hawkins Nov 21, 2017, 1:16pm EST

Colorado has ordered Uber to pay a fine of $8.9 million for allowing individuals with disqualifying criminal or motor vehicle offenses, or without valid licenses, to drive for the company, Reuters reports. The company blamed an “error” in its background check process for the bad drivers.

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) said its probe found violations that included 12 drivers with felony convictions, 17 drivers with major moving-vehicle violations, and three drivers with a type of driver’s license required only after recent drunk-driving convictions. The commission said that Uber’s background checks also failed to identify a number of aliases used by their drivers, including one driver who was “a convicted felon, habitual offender, and at one point in his past had escaped from the Colorado Department of Corrections.” Nevertheless, after he was released from prison, he became a driver for Uber. The company was cited $2,500 a day for each day a disqualified driver was found to have worked.


“We have determined that Uber had background check information that should have disqualified these drivers under the law, but they were allowed to drive anyway,” Doug Dean, the commission’s director, said in a statement. “PUC staff was able to find felony convictions that the company’s background checks failed to find, demonstrating that the company’s background checks are inadequate. In other cases, we could not confirm criminal background checks were even conducted by Uber.”

In a statement, Uber says it recently discovered a “process error that was inconsistent with Colorado’s ride-sharing regulations and proactively notified the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). This error affected a small number of drivers and we immediately took corrective action. Per Uber safety policies and Colorado state regulations, drivers with access to the Uber app must undergo a nationally accredited third-party background screening. We will continue to work closely with the CPUC to enable access to safe, reliable transportation options for all Coloradans.” Asked if the company planned on paying the fine, a spokesperson said they were “evaluating our options.”

This isn’t the first time Uber has been reprimanded for its security policies. In 2014, the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco sued the ride-hailing company for claiming its background checks were the most thorough in the industry, despite the fact that Uber does not take drivers' fingerprints like many taxi companies do. Uber paid $10 million to settle the suit. A new lawsuit seeking class action status was filed recently by two anonymous women who claim to have been raped or assaulted by Uber drivers. Their lawsuit is seeking to force Uber to implement stricter background check policies.

Fingerprinting drivers is a common point of contention between Uber and local governments. The company left out of Austin, Texas, after city officials there passed a law requiring finger printing for drivers. (Uber has since returned after a state law was passed voiding the requirement.)

In response to the Colorado decision, Uber notes that the state’s laws governing app-based ride-hailing services are uniquely strict. According to current Colorado law, a driver convicted of a felony for nonviolent crimes, such as trespassing or forgery, in their lifetime would not be eligible to drive for Uber in Colorado.


Uber hit with serious fallout from massive hack, alleged cover-up

By ETHAN BARON | ebaron@bayareanewsgroup.com | Bay Area News Group

PUBLISHED: November 24, 2017 at 4:24 pm | UPDATED: November 25, 2017 at 3:44 am

SAN FRANCISCO — Uber’s admission that it took more than a year to disclose the theft of personal data from 57 million customers and drivers has now drawn two lawsuits and a federal probe.

Compounding the ride-hailing titan’s woes are news reports that it paid the hackers $100,000 to destroy the pilfered data, and that its new CEO knew about the breach for more than two months before revealing it to customers and drivers.

The hack and its fallout are just the latest problems to strike a firm that is already a target for harsh criticism about its management — from claims it fostered a reckless, misogynist company culture that led to sexual harassment and bullying, to revelations about use of secret technology for evading authorities’ oversight, to a trade-secrets lawsuit by Google self-driving spinoff Waymo, and an $8.9 million fine levied Nov. 20 by Colorado over drivers with serious criminal and driving-infraction records.

The beleaguered San Francisco company’s latest personal-data trouble started in October 2016, when hackers broke into its systems and downloaded names, email addresses and cell phone numbers of 57 million Uber customers, along with names and driver’s license numbers of some 600,000 U.S. Uber drivers, according to statements from the company.

Such information is commonly used for identity theft, which can result in criminals obtaining credit cards and loans in victims’ names, or looting their bank accounts.

It wasn’t until Tuesday that Uber, in a statement from CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, revealed the breach to customers, drivers and the public. And according to a new report, Khosrowshahi had learned of the hack two weeks after he took the reins of the company Sept. 5, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed people said to be familiar with the matter.

In his Tuesday statement disclosing the 2016 hack, Khosrowshahi said he had “recently” learned of it.

The breach, and Uber’s response to it, drew two lawsuits soon after the company announced it had been hacked. Both suits seek class-action status.

On Tuesday, Alejandro Flores of Los Angeles launched a suit on behalf of himself and people who were Uber customers or drivers at the time of the breach. The legal action takes aim at the gap of more than a year between Uber’s discovery of the hack and its public disclosure.


“Customers, and drivers had no chance to protect their identity and their information,” said the suit filed in Central District of California U.S. District Court.

Flores also claims credit card and Social Security numbers were stolen, along with dates of birth. If true, that would put customers and drivers at increased risk of identity theft and fraud.

Khosrowshahi had said in his statement that the company’s “outside forensic experts” found no indication that dates of birth, or credit card or Social Security numbers were taken.

Uber did not immediately respond to a question about whether those types of data were stolen, or to additional questions about the breach and the company’s response. The lawyers representing Flores did not immediately respond to a request for information about the claims of stolen birth dates and credit card and Social Security numbers.

The other lawsuit, filed Wednesday by Danyelle Townsend and Ken Tew, highlights an allegation in a Nov. 21 Bloomberg report that Uber — under previous CEO Travis Kalanick — had paid the hackers to delete the stolen data and keep quiet about it.

“Rather than alerting regulators, law enforcement and victims of the Data Breach, Uber sought to conceal the Data Breach by paying the hackers $100,000 to destroy the stolen data and to promise to keep the Data Breach secret from the public and regulators,” the suit filed in Northern California U.S. District Court said.

This legal action also includes claims about personal data beyond what Uber has admitted was stolen.

“Also potentially at risk are additional pieces of personally identifiable information generally available in Uber customer accounts including: location history, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, Social Security Numbers, dates of birth and other information,” the suit claims.

Fallout from the hack goes beyond the courts. The Federal Trade Commission said it was “closely evaluating the serious issues raised” by the breach, Reuters reported Wednesday.

The huge hack is not the first data-security issue to put Uber into authorities’ sights. In August, the FTC announced that it had reached a settlement with Uber after a hacker accessed names and driver’s license numbers of more than 100,000 drivers in 2014. Uber had failed to take “reasonable, low-cost measures” to properly secure its database, the FTC said. In the settlement, Uber agreed to 20 years of independent audits to certify it had an effective privacy program.

That data breach also led to a settlement between Uber and New York’s attorney general, which included a $20,000 fine for failing to provide drivers and authorities with timely notice of the hack.

The legal and regulatory problems come as Uber readies itself to go public in 2019, and negotiates with SoftBank over a multi-billion-dollar investment that would give the Japanese tech titan a 14 percent to 20 percent stake in Uber, which is valued at nearly $70 billion.

Although Uber waited until this week to publicly disclose the massive breach of customer and driver data, it told SoftBank about the hack about three weeks earlier, according to the Wall Street Journal.


(Cook County)-Man posing as Uber driver picked up women outside bars and raped them, prosecutors say



Friday, September 29, 2017, 12:10 PM

A Chicago man faces charges after prosecutors say he allegedly pretended to be an Uber driver to pick up five different women and then sexually assault them.

Musaab Afandi was initially arrested in March by Stokie Police after two women said the 33-year-old man attacked them after posing as their Uber driver. Those cases are still pending.

On Wednesday, Afandi appeared in court for a bond hearing after DNA testing allegedly linked him to three additional attacks, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Some of the sexual assault cases date back to last year.

Assistant State's Attorney Jillian Anselmo said during Wednesday's hearing that one 21-year-old female victim said she was attacked by Afandi in April of last year after he picked her up at Mullen's Bar in Wrigleyville. The woman said when Afandi pulled up she asked him if he was her Uber driver, CBS Chicago reports.

When he told her he was, the woman said she climbed into the back seat. After realizing that Afandi was not taking her to her destination, the woman asked him to pull over.

She told investigators that he stopped on a dark street, climbed into the back seat and raped her.

The woman was able to escape and called a friend. She then took a taxi home and went to the hospital the following day. DNA from the rape kit matched Afandi's, CBS reports.

A second victim told investigators that she was attacked by Afandi in December after leaving her job's Christmas party in River North. The 27-year-old woman said she got into what she thought was a taxi, driven by Afandi. She said she woke up in the back of the car naked with Afandi on top of her. The woman was able to escape before he sexually assaulted her.

Authorities said photos and a video of the woman were allegedly found on Afandi's cell phone.

In January, Afandi allegedly attacked another woman. The third victim said she was waiting with friends outside Old Crow Smokeshouse in Wrigleyville. After her friends left in a separate, official Uber, the 25-year-old woman said Afandi pulled up and she got in the backseat of the car. The woman said Afandi pulled onto a side street and raped her. After escaping, she ran to a nearby residence for help. DNA from a sexual assault kit was also allegedly linked to the phony driver.

Afandi is charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated criminal sexual assault. He was denied bail in Wednesday's hearing. DNA Info reports that an Uber spokeswoman urged riders to check the company's public awareness campaign to avoid getting into the wrong vehicle.



September 22, 2017 

A 13-year-old Florida girl riding Lyft alone in the middle of the night was killed when her 17-year-old driver ran off a wet highway into some trees. The 17-year-old driver had only a learner’s permit; he was using his mother’s Lyft account to make money.

The driver picked up the 13-year-old girl in her pajamas in front of her house at 1:30 a.m. She was sneaking out to a boy’s house. The girl’s grandmother was sleeping while her mother, a nurse, was working the overnight shift. Reportedly, the child died on the return trip when the 17-year-old picked her back up at 5:30 a.m. and was driving her home.

What a disaster.

The girl’s mother is reportedly suing Lyft for violating its own policy which prohibits unaccompanied minors.

Lawsuit technicalities aside, this extremely sad case involves circumstances we’ve seen repeatedly:

Uber and Lyft drivers ferry unaccompanied minors all the time. The companies say it’s against their policy, but haven’t made any significant efforts to stop it. “They know what’s happening and are looking the other way,” says Harry Campbell at The Rideshare Guy.

Busy parents = profit.

The 17-year-old Lyft driver borrowed his mother’s app login to make money. Sometimes it’s friends who borrow the app. Uber and Lyft are aware of this, too. Obviously, these unauthorized replacement drivers have never received any background check and yet repeatedly slip behind the wheel.

More unfortunate patterns: Passengers don’t reliably check to make sure the Uber or Lyft driver’s name, face, car and license plate matches what’s provided by the app. Obviously, this 13-year-old girl sneaking out of her house in her pajamas didn’t even notice her driver wasn’t a woman.

Finally, the driver and passenger may have arranged a cash trip here. Else how did the same driver come to pick up the same girl four hours later at 5:30 a.m.?  Did the Lyft app coincidentally summon him again? Or, did he simply arrange to pick her up later? If there was a verbal arrangement, this may have been a cash trip performed outside of the Lyft app. And if this was a cash trip, there was no insurance coverage whatsoever on this ride. Meaning: If this car had hit a family of six, instead of a tree, any damages to the family could be uncompensated by insurance.

There are so many things wrong with an unscreened 17-year-old with a learner’s permit picking up an unaccompanied 13-year-old girl in the middle of the night that it boggles the mind.

There’s really only two things for sure about this trip:

#1 Lyft profited financially;

#2 Lyft and Uber should take active steps to ban children riding unaccompanied.

Source: http://www.whosdrivingyou.org/blog/lyft-and-unaccompanied-minor-trip-death

Chicago-Prosecutors: Lyft driver accused of zip-tying, sexually assaulting passenger

Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas  Chicago Tribune 07/21/2017

A driver of a ride-sharing service appeared in court Friday on charges that he kidnapped a customer, physically restrained her with a zip tie, and sexually assaulted and robbed her, all at knifepoint, according to prosecutors.

Angelo McCoy, 48, is being held in lieu of $900,000 bail in the July 7 crime, in which a 25-year-old Chicago woman was restrained and attacked, authorities said.

McCoy was charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping, armed robbery and unlawful restraint, police and prosecutors said.

The woman used the Lyft app on her phone to order a ride home from a bar because she felt she had had too much to drink and was picked up near the intersection of Hubbard and Clark streets about 11 p.m., Assistant State's Attorney Melissa Howlett told the judge.

Investigators would later learn the driver entered a pickup time of 11:06 p.m. and the system showed a drop-off time of 11:11 p.m., when in actuality the woman would be held against her will until after 1 a.m., Howlett said. 

The woman’s friend walked out to the curb with her and watched as she got into a white 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport SUV that matched the description of the Lyft vehicle that appeared on the woman’s mobile app, according to Howlett.

The woman fell asleep in the back seat of the SUV, and when she awoke, she realized the vehicle wasn’t headed in the direction of her home. She asked to get out of the vehicle, but McCoy wouldn’t let her, court documents show.  

He pulled into an alley and stopped the vehicle. The woman saw three people in the distance and screamed for help, but no one responded. McCoy then entered the back seat of the SUV, grabbed the woman from behind by her throat and pushed her down on her seat, according to Howlett.

He tied the woman’s hands together behind her back with a zip tie, police said, and forced her to perform oral sex on him.

The driver is additionally accused of sexually assaulting the woman, stealing her cellphone and driver’s license and demanding she give him money despite her pleas that she didn’t have any, prosecutors said.

After about two hours as a captive, she saw a chance to jump out of the SUV, near Belmont and Ashland avenues. She got out at a red light and ran straight to a car behind them, and that driver came to her aid, according to Howlett.

The stranger not only allowed her into his car but also offered to drive her home and persuaded her to first report the attack and took her to the 19th District police station. The woman was taken to Thorek Memorial Hospital, where she was examined for her injuries.

McCoy's next court appearance was set for Aug. 9, according to records from the Cook County sheriff’s office. 

"These allegations are sickening and horrifying,'' Lyft spokesman Scott Coriell said in an emailed statement. "As soon as we were made aware of this incident, we deactivated the driver’s account and did everything we could to assist law enforcement,'' he said in the statement. "Our concern is with the victim and her well-being. We stand ready to assist law enforcement in their investigation.''




Uber Driver Charged With Assaulting Middletown Woman

The driver started kissing the 23-year-old woman and asked her to stay in the car, police say. She was able to escape and call for help.

By Margo Sullivan (Patch Staff) - Updated September 25, 2017 9:22 pm ET

MIDDLETOWN, RI—A Providence man was charged with Simple Assault or Battery on Sunday at 2:05 a.m. after he allegedly grabbed a woman in his car and started kissing her. The woman told police she had called Uber and arranged to be picked up at 41 North restaurant in Newport. She got into the front passenger seat, and the driver, Richard Jimenez, "began to hit on her," she told police. He allegedly told her she was pretty and asked for her telephone number. When they arrived at her street, she asked him to pull over so she could leave. He pulled her head toward him and started kissing her, she said. She protested and managed to get away. Fearful he would see where she lived, she walked into an apartment building a couple of doors away from her home and called her boyfriend. He called police.

Middletown police investigated and then stopped Jimenez, 32, on Lawrence Street. He denied dropping off anyone there and said he was just driving around. Later, he said he had dropped off a passenger. Police asked the woman to identify the suspect, and she confirmed he was the driver.


Woman Reports Assault by Uber Driver After Refusing Sexual Favor

September 26th, 2017, 3:19 PM 

A 22-year-old Inkster woman said she was attacked by her Uber driver after rejecting his demand for sexual favors in lieu of a tip last Friday morning around 2 a.m., WXYZ reports. 

Ashley Johnson said after he made the sexual demand, she was horrified and immediately declined.

She said she would give him a tip after getting home. He agreed.

But then he changed his mind and ordered her out of the car a few houses from her home, she said.

"I opened the door and he grabbed my arm and sped off," she tells Ameera David of WXYZ.  "But my leg was outside the door, dragging me down until my arm got out the car."

She said she was left with road rash on her knee and torn muscles in her arm.

Johnson tells the station she used another person's phone to summon the car. She says she didn't know the owner of the phone. 

She said she tried for several days to contact Uber, without luck. She finally got through and Uber said it was investigating the matter.

Uber issues a statement: 

"What's been described is horrible and has no place on the Uber app or anywhere. We take all allegations very seriously and are looking further into this report."



Uber to lose its license to operate in London

CHICAGO NEWS 09/22/2017, 08:20am

LONDON — Uber’s license to operate in London won’t be renewed because its practices endanger public safety and security, the local regulator said Friday, in a blow to a company already facing big questions over its corporate culture.

Transport for London says the company, whose app is used by 3.5 million passengers and 40,000 drivers in London, isn’t “fit and proper” to hold a license to operate a private-hire vehicle service.

“TfL considers that Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications,” the regulator said in a statement.

Uber was first licensed to operate in the city in 2012 and will see its current license expire on Sept. 30. The company said it plans to appeal the regulator’s decision, and can continue to operate until the appeals process is exhausted.

For its part, Uber accused the city of caving in to special interests “who want to restrict consumer choice.”

“Uber operates in more than 600 cities around the world, including more than 40 towns and cities here in the U.K.,” the company said. “This ban would show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies who bring choice to consumers.”

Uber, founded in 2010 in San Francisco, has often faced opposition as it expanded. Taxi drivers complain that Uber drivers don’t have to comply with the same licensing standards, giving the ride-hailing service an unfair advantage and placing the public at risk.

The company, which provides a smartphone application that connects passengers with drivers who work as independent contractors, argues it isn’t a traditional transportation company.

In its decision, Transport for London singled out Uber’s approach to reporting serious criminal offenses and how it conducts background checks on drivers. TfL also took issue with Uber’s explanation of software that could be used to block regulators from gaining full access to the app and “prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he supported the decision, saying any operator of taxi services in the city “needs to play by the rules.”

“Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security,” he said. “I fully support TfL’s decision — it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security.”

Police in London accused Uber last month of not reporting a sexual assault by a driver on a passenger, allowing the driver to strike again. Metropolitan Police Inspector Neil Billany suggested in a letter that the company was putting concerns for its reputation over public safety.

At the time, Uber said it was surprised by the letter and that it had a good working relationship with the police.

But the company has been dogged by questions on its workplace culture. In July, former CEO Travis Kalanick resigned following criticism of his management style. Some 20 people, including some managers, were fired in June amid allegations of sexual harassment and bullying.

Its aggressive corporate culture has resulted in litigation around the world. John Colley, a strategy professor at Warwick Business School, said poor values ultimately bring companies down. Uber is now effectively banned from France, Spain and Belgium, and it is facing litigation and investigations around the world, he said.

“There is a very long list of businesses who have suffered for failing to uphold the level of values necessary,” Colley said. “Until Uber gets this message then it will suffer lost trade as a result of its deteriorating reputation.”


Mpls. police warn about rideshare groping incidents


MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (KARE) - Minneapolis police are asking people using Uber and Lyft to use caution after a recent series of incidents involving drivers touching passengers inappropriately.

In the last two weeks, four different Uber and Lyft passengers called police saying they'd been sexually groped by their rideshare driver, according to Minneapolis police Sgt. Catherine Michal.

Three of the four people who were groped were sitting in the front seat at the time of the assault, said Michal.

Two of the gropings happened in Uptown, one was Downtown near Target Field, and the fourth incident was in southeast Minneapolis near the University of Minnesota, said Michal.

"The person that is getting the ride has either been intoxicated or has had alcohol in their system or has been distracted due to other things that are going on in their personal life," said Michal of the four recent incidents.

The victims include three women and a man, said Michal. Now police are trying to determine whether the cases involve the same suspect.

"The descriptions that have been given have been a black male, mid 20s, early 30s, and/or a Somali male," said Michal.

Police say if caught, the suspect will face criminal sexual conduct charges.

Police say they hope Uber and Lyft passengers will use a few safety precautions to prevent a similar incident.

"We appreciate that people aren't drinking and driving and that they're taking a ride, but if you're by yourself, we definitely recommend that you sit in the back seat, and if you're with other people, always stick together," said Michal.

Both Uber and Lyft put their drivers through a background check that includes a motor vehicle record review as well as a criminal background check. Drivers for both Uber and Lyft must have a criminal record that is free of felony, violent crime, or sexual offense within the last seven years.


Lynwood man accused of driving stolen car for Uber in DeKalb



Sept. 18, 2017

DeKALB – A Lynwood man who police say was driving for Uber in a stolen vehicle was arrested Sunday, according to a news release from the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office.

William S. Hall, 48, of the first block of Ellen Drive, was pulled over about 2 a.m. Sunday at the intersection of Sleepy Hollow Lane and Pickwick Circle, according to the release.

The release said deputies pulled him over because the vehicle was listed as stolen out of Cook County. Hall was taken to the DeKalb County Jail, and his passengers were released without charges, according to the release. Hall was charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle, typically punishable by three to seven years in prison, and criminal trespass to a motor vehicle.



September 7, 2017

Wrap your head around this: Uber was sued more than 1.8 times a day between 1/1/17 and 8/23.

That’s 435 lawsuits and counting, so far, in 2017.

Enough to make anyone weak in the knees.

This statistic courtesy of Courthouse News, which has reporters around the U.S. visit federal and regional courthouses to analyze records.

According to news analysis of these suits, Uber has been sued on claims of negligence, failure to train drivers, exaggerating the quality of the background checks it claims to perform on drivers, numerous injury accidents (including an alleged death caused by an Uber driver using his phone while driving), class actions involving how Uber treats its drivers, and failing to serve disabled passengers.

In other words: business as usual for Uber.

But maybe, maybe, that’s about to change with the introduction of a new CEO.

After all: These lawsuits are bad business.


They’ve got to be bad for digestion.

Here’s the thing. Uber has stubbornly opposed more stringent background checks for drivers and even refused to conduct in-person hiring despite voluminous passenger assaults. This ornery corporate stance has fertilized the grounds for lawsuits way past fecund.

By embracing more rigorous driver screening, Uber’s new CEO could improve the corporation’s passenger safety and reputation and reduce the risk and price tag associated with these mushrooming lawsuits.

We’ll see.



Uber driver accused of raping passenger in police custody

UPDATED: SEP 08 2017 10:22AM EDT

DETROIT (WJBK) - An Uber driver accused of raping a 21-year-old woman Thursday night has turned himself in to Detroit Police.

Investigators say 29-year-old Forid Ahmed, who was driving a gray 2013 Toyota Camry, picked up the 21-year- old woman up in the area of 5000 Cass.

The victim told police he drove her to an unknown location where he assaulted her.

The woman was able to escape his car in the area of 31st and Devereaux.

Detroit Police tell us Ahmed turned himself in Thursday night after seeing his picture in television news broadcast reports. Police say he was accompanied by his attorney. 


Lyft driver charged with pointing gun at passengers in Lake View


CHICAGO NEWS 09/02/2017, 04:43pm

A Lyft driver was charged with pointing a gun at two passengers early Friday in the Lake View neighborhood on the North Side.

Jaleesa Rance, 25, was driving two men, ages 31 and 26, when she got into an argument with them about 2 a.m. in the 400 block of West Melrose, according to Chicago Police. During the argument, she pulled out a handgun, pointed it at the men and ordered them to get out of the car.

After the men got out, Rance drove away, police said. Officers found her in the 3600 block of North Broadway and arrested her after she was positively identified by the victims, who both signed criminal complaints.

Rance, who lives in Aurora, was charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one count of unlawful use of a weapon, all misdemeanors, police said. She has a valid concealed-carry license.

She appeared in court Friday and was released on a $1,000 bond, according to Cook County court records. Her next court date was scheduled for Sept. 11 before Judge Anthony John Calabrese.

“The safety of the Lyft community is our top priority, and we have a strict no weapons policy for both drivers and passengers,” company spokeswoman Alexandra LaManna said in a statement.

LaManna said Lyft has not been contacted by police about the incident.


Woman Says Uber Driver Pushed Her From Speeding Car


ROBERT KAHN   August 22, 2017

VENTURA, Calif. (CN) — A Southern California woman claims in courtthat an Uber driver pushed her from a speeding car when, alarmed by his erratic behavior, she asked him to let her out.

Katherine Conner sued Uber Technologies and Rasier on Monday in Ventura County Superior Court. She seeks punitive damages on nine counts, including assault, battery, false imprisonment, gross negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Uber, whose corporate culture has come under intense public and legal scrutiny this year, could not be reached for comment after business hours Monday.

Conner’s 13-page lawsuit is short on specifics, aside from the frightening ride she says happened “(w)ithin the year last past,” with an Uber “driver defendant” in the city of Ventura.

She says when the Uber driver picked her up he headed in the wrong direction. When she complained he told her “in essence, that he was taking a shortcut, according to the complaint. When it became clear he was not taking her where she wanted to go, Conner says, she told him she wanted to get out of the car.

“At that point, the driver defendant became agitated and started driving fast,” making her “fear that the driver defendant intended to take her somewhere other than the destination and do her harm.”

She screamed at him, insisting that he let her out, Conner says, but he ignored her pleas to let her out of the car, “and, in fact, increased its speed in response and began shoving, pushing and assaulting and battering (her).”

The assault culminated, she says, “as the driver defendant was making a turn, and while the vehicle was still moving, the driver defendant reached over, opened the passenger-side door, forcibly pushed plaintiff Conner out of the subject vehicle and drove away.”

She had to go to a hospital emergency room and get continuing treatment for physical and psychological trauma, Conner says.

She is represented by Lewis Adelson with Costell & Cornelius, of Santa Monica.

Uber has been sued at least 433 times this year, according to the Courthouse News database, on claims of negligence, failure to train, exaggerating the background checks it claims to do on its drivers, many injury accidents, including an alleged death caused by an Uber driver using his mobile phone while driving, and class actions about its treatment of drivers, including failing to secure workers’ compensation insurance for them, and failing to serve disabled passengers. Its CEO Travis Kalanick stepped down after repeated complaints about an abusive workplace and a major shareholder recently sued the company to get Kalanick booted from the board.


Uber driver LAUGHS as he brags about how he’s tempted to rape ‘beautiful women’ who get in his car


The shocking clip, recorded by a passenger, emerges just days after police claimed Uber was failing to report sex attacks by its drivers.

By Sun Reporter

20th August 2017, 8:57 pm

He is heard on the footage saying: “She was wearing one skirt, god her legs, she was so beautiful.

“I can understand why a lot of men, when they have that opportunity they are tempted to do some silly things, like rape the woman or just do what they are not supposed to do.

“Because I was honestly just, my mind was just there.”

The shocking clip emerged just days after police claimed Uber was failing to report sex attacks by its drivers.

It was filmed by the passenger, 26, at the start of a 23-minute journey from Crystal Palace to Croydon in South London.

He responds to the driver: “No way f*** that, I can’t get with that raping s***."

The passenger said: “I felt so disgusted. It made me think about my sisters and family who are woman who are using this app.”

Uber general manager Tom Elvidge said it had dropped the driver.

He said: “We were shocked at the abhorrent comments.”