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

BYMINYVONNE BURKE

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

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.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/fake-uber-driver-charged-raping-women-article-1.3530197

Fake Uber Driver Arrested After Brutal Sexual Assault of Passenger in Westlake: LAPD

POSTED 12:08 PM, APRIL 11, 2016, BY MELISSA PAMER AND SARA WELCH

A man who pretended to be an Uber driver and brutally sexually assaulted a female passenger, prompting police to shoot at him, has been arrested less than a week after the violent attack in the Westlake area, Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said Monday.

Police respond to a report of a woman screaming inside a vehicle April 3, 2016, in Westlake. (Credit: Loudlabs)

Dartanyum Larmar Smith, 39, was arrested at a South Los Angeles home on suspicion of kidnapping early Saturday morning.

The incident began about 3:30 a.m. Sunday, April 3, when LAPD received a call about a woman screaming from inside an SUV in the area of 1300 block of Ingraham Street.

Officers did not have the exact address when responding and began searching parked cars along dark streets for the assault, Beck said at morning news conference.

As they drive by … they hear the screams. They can see the assault going on in the back seat of this SUV," Beck said.

The officers tried to get into the vehicle, but it was locked. When they began smashing the windows, the attacker jumped into the driver’s seat and began accelerating away.

Glass remained at the scene where LAPD officers smashed the window of a vehicle in which a sex assault was taking place in Westlake on April 3, 2016. (Credit: KTLA)

Smith allegedly accelerated toward officers, one of whom was struck by the SUV's door. One officer fired a single shot that didn’t strike the driver, Beck said.

As the SUV sped away, with the female victim still inside, the officers called for backup and jumped into their patrol vehicle to follow.

About four blocks away, after a frantic search, they found the victim, dumped onto the street, Beck said. She was discovered at James M. Wood Boulevard and Columbia Avenue and was taken by ambulance to a hospital.

The driver escaped.

The case was assigned to the Los Angeles Police Department’s elite Robbery-Homicide Division, and the FBI helped, Beck said.

DNA evidence from a sexual assault kit and the scrapings from the victim’s fingernails led to a match in a state crime database, according to the chief. Investigators found Smith’s location and served a search warrant that led to his arrest, Beck said.

The chief praised the victim, saying she fought “valiantly” against her assailant, despite being choked into unconsciousness three times and brutally sexually assaulted.

A friend had ordered an Uber for the victim, who was waiting at Eighth Street and Vermont Avenue when an SUV pulled up and its driver asked if she was waiting for Uber, Beck and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

He was not an Uber driver. He posed as an Uber driver. That’s a very important distinction,” Beck said. “With some trepidation, she entered the vehicle.”

Smith drove the victim about two blocks east and sexually assaulted her, Beck said.

“This was a young woman who through absolutely no fault of her own was targeted and selected right off the street by a predator,” Beck said.

He praised the quick work of investigators who found the suspect, saying he was the kind of individual who might have embarked on a series of such crimes across the city.

Smith has served prison time for robbery, Beck said.

Uber, Beck said, had been very helpful during the investigation.

"There’s no blame to the victim here … but it is so important that when you’re using a ride application like Uber, to make sure the person you’re getting into the car of is the person they say they are," Beck said.

The Uber app tells users the license plate of the driver's vehicle, as well as a description of that vehicle. Sometimes the app includes a photo of the driver as well.

Police initially said the suspect's name was Dartanyun Lamar Smith, but later clarified that his name is Dartanyum Larmar Smith. Inmate records show arrests for both names.

The suspect was being held on $1 million bail.

Smith is a documented gang member, according to Officer Norma Eisenman of LAPD's Media Relations Section.

http://ktla.com/2016/04/11/fake-uber-driver-arrested-after-brutal-sexual-assault-of-passenger-in-westlake-lapd/

Skokie Police: Man impersonating Uber driver raped 2 women

POSTED:MAR 21 2017 05:06PM CDT

SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - A man impersonating an Uber driver drove two women to north suburban Skokie and sexually assaulted them in the last month, according to police.

Musaab S. Afandi, 33, was charged with three counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault and two counts of aggravated kidnapping, all felonies, according to Skokie police. At 4:38 a.m. on Feb. 12 and again at 3:33 a.m. on March 19, Skokie police responded to 911 calls from females reporting they had been sexually assaulted by a man impersonating a ride-share service driver, police said

Both victims told police they were picked up outside different Chicago bars or nightclubs after ordering an Uber, police said. After picking up the victims, the man drove them to Skokie, where he sexually assaulted them in his vehicle.

The females provided information that led to Afandi’s arrest, police said.

Afandi, of Glenview, was ordered held without bond at the Cook County Jail on Tuesday, police said. He is next scheduled to appear in court April 11.

The Skokie Police Department reminds ride-share service customers to verify the identity of the driver and their car before you get inside, wait inside for your ride to arrive, keep in touch with friends and family and share trip details with them, take note of the driver’s rating on the app and always ride in the back passenger side seat when riding alone.

Anyone with information about these or similar crimes is asked to call Skokie police at (847) 982-5900.

http://www.fox32chicago.com/news/crime/243024206-story

Police: Fake Rideshare Driver Scams Passenger For $1K

 

Police are searching for a fake Uber driver that they say is stealing money from customers by asking for a credit card after claiming there is something wrong with the passenger’s payment.

Police say a Mount Prospect resident was picked up by someone who looked like an Uber driver in Chicago near Clark and Ontario streets. The victim was taken all the way back to Mount Prospect when the driver claimed her payment wouldn’t go through the app. He then demanded she pay with her debit card and required the victim to enter her pin number on his phone, police say. The victim told police a few days later her bank account was short $1,200.

Mount Prospect Police said they are looking for the alleged scammer.

“Everybody needs money for the holidays and some people don’t care how they get it,” said Det. Dirk Ollech. “This victim saw an Uber sticker in the vehicle but those obviously can be obtained through other means.”

Katie Lawson, an Uber customer, said she was upset after hearing about the crime.

“I would be very worried if I were put in that position,” she told NBC 5. “I’m not sure what I would do, but I wouldn’t necessarily hand it over and think that would be OK.”

Since October, Chicago Police have reported several similar incidents, adding up to thousands of dollars from victims. Uber says it offers safety tips for riders to follow—but the police say using common sense is key.

“It seems like maybe people are becoming a little bit too trusting," Ollech said. “Just not following the safety steps.”

 The decal on the window isn’t enough to go by, police say. Uber encourages riders to check the license plate against the one shown in the app, to make sure the driver matches the photo in the app and to ask for the driver’s name—and to never accept solicitations.

Mount Prospect and Chicago police are working together in an ongoing investigation.



Source: Police: Fake Rideshare Driver Scams Passenger For $1K | NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/fake-uber-driver-scam-406372005.html#ixzz4T1Xp3vsp 
Follow us: @nbcchicago on Twitter | nbcchicago on Facebook

Fake Uber driver in Maserati arrested for sex assault

POSTED 6:33 AM, NOVEMBER 16, 2016, BY MIKE WILLEUPDATED AT 09:04AM, NOVEMBER 16, 2016

SAN DIEGO - A man who allegedly posed as an Uber driver was arrested after a couple he picked up in University City reported a sex assault during their ride late Tuesday night.

According to San Diego Police Sargent Bannan, the driver asked the couple at the Westfield UTC mall if they ordered an Uber and the pair subsequently got into his vehicle for a ride.

While in the passenger seat of the man's black 4-door Maserati, the driver reached over and grabbed the male passenger's genitalia.  The victim slapped the driver's hand and had the vehicle pull over.  The distraught couple got out to call police.

San Diego Police caught up to the Maserati driver in the 9400 block of Gold Coast Drive.  The driver refused field sobriety tests on scene and was later arrested on sex assault charges.

Police did determine that the driver was not associated with the ride share company Uber.

http://fox5sandiego.com/2016/11/16/man-posing-as-uber-arrested-for-sex-assault/

CPD: Man posing as ride-hailing driver sexually assaulted woman

This is the problem with weak regulations for Rideshares. These fake taxis can be easily mistaken and women are being raped and assaulted frequently. Improper temporary markings would never fly in the taxi industry.
— Jaime Hjelm (Fleet owner with A#1 Cab Dispatch Inc.)

 

CHICAGO NEWS 11/06/2016, 06:28pm

@danielbrown2011 | email

Sign-Up for our News & Politics Newsletter   Sign-Up

A man posing as a ride-hailing driver sexually assaulted a female passenger early Sunday in the North Side Lake View neighborhood.

The 21-year-old woman ordered a ride about 2 a.m. in the near 3400 North Halsted and was picked up by a man posing as a driver, according to a community alert from Chicago Police.

After she was dropped off, the man lured her back into his car by telling her she forgot something, police said. The man then drove off and later sexually assaulted her in the backseat of the vehicle.

The suspect was described as a 40 to 45-year-old man, weighing 300 pounds, with a tan complexion, round face, white stubbly beard, bushy black eyebrows, and short black hair, police said. He wore a back windbreaker and spoke with a heavy accent.

He drove an older beige and tan or white four-door vehicle, possibly a Toyota Camry or Corolla, police said.

http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/cpd-man-posing-as-ride-hailing-driver-sexually-assaulted-woman/

Uber imposter drove woman from Uptown to Woodbury, attempted assault

WOODBURY, Minn. (KMSP) - A man posing as an Uber driver picked up a woman in Uptown, drove her to Woodbury, Minn. and attempted to sexually assault her. Woodbury police said the attempted assault happened at about 6:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 20.

It’s unclear if Woodbury was the victim’s intended destination, or if the suspect made his own decision to drive to the eastern suburb. The victim fought the driver and ran to a house to call 911. She was not physically hurt.

Woodbury police have gathered a description of the suspect and his vehicle, but those details are not being released at this time. Police said the public release of the descriptions could compromise the investigation.

 

In Depth: Ride-sharing drivers pretending to be taxis in violation of state law, getting huge fines

 

By Vince Cestone, KRON and

Published: May 17, 2016, 11:04 pm  Updated: May 18, 2016, 2:31 pm

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — KRON’s Stanley Roberts goes in-depth about the dangers of jumping into a rideshare vehicle you did not call for.

A KRON investigation reveals rogue Uber and Lyft drivers picking up passengers and cutting out the taxi cab.

KRON’s Stanley Roberts was there for a San Francisco crackdown and explains why you need to think twice before hailing a ride.

Only a taxi driver can be a taxi driver, and while that may sound strange, there is a problem where other people are pretending to be taxi drivers.

So, San Franciso police and the SFMTA conduct regular enforcement stings looking for rogue drivers. Basically, they put two decoys out on the street to hail a ride.

If you are not a taxi, you are not allowed to pick up passengers. However, app-based drivers often do, despite knowing it’s a big no-no.

Stanley rode with plain-clothed officers from the San Francisco Police Department on a crackdown funded entirely by the SFMTA to catch app-based drivers behaving badly.

A ticket from the police is one thing, but an administrative ticket from SFMTA can cost as high as $5,000.

Uber reached out to KRON and wanted to clarify the following:

(We) want to clarify, on background, that Uber only works through the app. Street-hailing is an explicit violation of our terms of service and if (these) drivers are indeed partners with Uber, then they will be deactivated….All drivers undergo a local, state, and federal background check before getting onboarded. During the ride, all trips are GPS tracked and folks can share their trip details with their friends and family. This is the sort of transparency that technology enables. It is also important because the service is completely cashless. So riders and drivers don’t have to worry about carrying cash. After the ride, there is a two-way feedback system that allows us to have quality controls.

Uber added that “there are serious consequences for those drivers who break our terms of service.”

Court documents describe sexual assault of QU student by fake Uber driver

Ahmad Bahjat was arraigned Monday in Meriden Superior Court for charges stemming from a sexual assault Hamden Police say occurred while he masqueraded as Uber driver.

Bahjat, an Iraqi refugee, is charged with sexual assault, kidnapping and unlawful restraint.

The arrest warrant obtained by NBC Connecticut describes a horrific experience for a Quinnipiac University student who got into Bahjat’s car on Jan. 31 because she believed he was an Uber driver.

According to the warrant, Bahjat, 29,  raped the woman in the backseat of his Nissan Sentra in an unknown apartment parking lot in Hamden.

The victim told detectives “She attempted to get out from under him, but he overpowered her” and “she told him “No”, “Stop” and “Get off” numerous times, but he did not.”

The QU student left her phone in the car after Bahjat eventually dropped her off near QU’s main campus. Police used an I-Phone locator app to track down and seize his dark gray colored car.

The court papers state police were able to identify Bahjat as their suspect because of a parking decal in the car from Southern Connecticut State University.

While at Yale-New Haven Hospital, the victim logged in to her Gmail account to see if she purchased an Uber ride and “She did not observe any transactions or receipts for payment emailed to her,” according to the warrant.

Another QU student Breanna Hegarty told NBC Connecticut she has seen people pose as Uber drivers trying to pick up passengers near Toad’s Place, the New Haven nightclub where police say the victim got into Bahjat’s car.

“I took it off my phone just because it’s not necessary there are shuttles,” Hegarty said, explaining why she no longer uses Uber. “The shuttles are safer in my opinion and you can find friends who can drive you.”

Uber reminds riders to always check to make sure the license plate on your phone app matches the one on the car picking you up for a ride.

Bahjat is being held on a $500,000 bond. His case is being transferred to New Haven court, where he is scheduled to appear on March 8.