Thousands of criminals were cleared to be Uber drivers. Here's how rideshare companies fought stronger checks

By Curt Devine, Nelli Black, Drew Griffin and Collette Richards
Video by Collette Richards and Harshal Vaidya

Updated 7:46 PM ET, Fri June 1, 2018

(CNN)For anyone looking, it wouldn't have been too hard to uncover Talal Chammout's sordid past.

A simple internet search would have turned up news accounts of his criminal history, such as his assault conviction or the time a federal judge sentenced him to 6½ years in prison for being a felon in possession of firearms.

The judge in that case ticked off a string of allegations against Chammout at his sentencing: He had been accused of shooting a juvenile in the leg, seeking to smuggle rocket launchers into the Middle East, attacking his wife with a crowbar and plotting to hire a hit man.

Three years after he was released from prison, Chammout wanted to be an Uber driver. The company did not run a background check on him and he was allowed to drive in 2015. Three months later, he followed one of his passengers into her home and sexually assaulted her. He is now serving a 25-year prison sentence.

It wasn't the only time Uber welcomed a driver who should have been barred under the company's policy that excludes people with convictions of serious crimes or major driving offenses from shuttling passengers, a CNN investigation into rideshare background checks found.

Among the shady drivers who cleared Uber's screening process: A man convicted of attempted murder who is now accused of raping a passenger in Kansas City; a murderer on parole in Brazos County, Texas; a previously deported undocumented immigrant who is now facing trial for sexually assaulting three passengers and attacking another in San Luis Obispo, California. They no longer drive for Uber.

Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft have approved thousands of people who should have been disqualified because of criminal records, according to state agencies and lawsuits examined by CNN.

In statements to CNN, Uber and Lyft said their background checks are robust and fair. Uber acknowledged past mistakes in its screening process, but said, "More than 200,000 people failed our background check process in 2017 alone. While no background check is perfect, this is a process we take seriously and are committed to constantly improving."

Though both companies say they support thorough vetting, they have pushed back on government efforts to add other layers of scrutiny to the screening process. CNN found a massive lobbying effort from rideshare companies led by Uber has successfully fought off additional backgrounding requirements for drivers, such as fingerprint scans or government screening, that some state and local officials say would help protect passengers.

Uber has played a key role in shaping the language of many state laws governing rideshare companies, giving the company authority to conduct its own background checks in most states with little or no oversight, unlike many taxi operations. The company has been particularly forceful in its opposition to requirements that would force it to check criminal records through an applicant's fingerprint.

Of the 43 states that have passed laws or rules regulating rideshare driver background checks and eligibility, none require fingerprint-based checks, CNN found. In 31 states, the laws largely mirror Uber's recommended screening policies, in some cases nearly word-for-word.

Legislative sources from 25 states told CNN Uber directly influenced the writing of their laws.

"Uber has essentially regulated itself," said a former Uber employee and in-house lobbyist, who requested anonymity citing concern over possible backlash from a current employer. The former employee added that in most states, lawmakers just inserted Uber's language.

An email between an Uber lobbyist and a lawmaker underscores the point.

As Wyoming State Rep. Dan Zwonitzer prepared to introduce a bill to regulate rideshare companies in his state in December 2016, an Uber lobbyist emailed him, pushing for a change in the proposed legislation.

for complete article-

https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/01/us/felons-driving-for-uber-invs/index.html

Lyft driver sexually assaulted passenger after she refused $1K offer: cops

 

By Joshua Rhett Miller

May 3, 2018 | 11:52am

Raheel Bin HanifOakland County Sheriffs Office

A Lyft driver in Michigan sexually assaulted a female passenger after offering her $1,000 for sex, authorities said.

Raheel Bin Hanif, 24, of Waterford Township, told the woman during a ride in Pontiac on April 24 that he owned a health spa and would pay her $400 if she let him massage her and complete a subsequent survey on his services, according to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.

Hanif also encouraged the woman — who had previously used Hanif as a driver on the ridesharing platform — to drink from an open container of Four Loko during the ride. Hanif then arrived at the purported spa, where the victim said she felt as if she was “buzzed” after drinking the alcoholic malt beverage. After the massage ended, Hanif then offered her $1,000 in exchange for sex, which the woman refused before being sexually assaulted. Hanif then drove her back to her home, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.

“We will never tolerate behavior from those who commit sexual violence,” Bouchard said in a statement. “This is a reminder to review some of the newest safety features included in apps such as Uber and Lyft, which allow you to send your location to friends and family and call for emergency help quickly.”

Hanif was arrested a day after the alleged assault and was later arraigned on three counts of third-degree criminal sexual contact. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

Hanif, who remains jailed on $750,000 cash surety bond, is due back in court on Monday.

Investigators are now looking into whether Hanif has been involved in other assaults. He was listed as a possible suspect in another sexual assault in December, but there wasn’t enough evidence to obtain a warrant at the time, Bouchard said.

Anyone with information about Hanif is asked to contact authorities at (248) 858-4911.

Hanif’s arrest comes after a CNN report last month found that at least 103 Uber drivers and 18 Lyft drivers have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing passengers in the last four years.

“You are pretty much hitchhiking with strangers,” one woman from Miami told CNN. “How many people is it going to take to get assaulted before something is done?”

Hanif was “immediately deactivated” after Lyft officials learned of the alleged assault, which occurred off the company’s platform, spokeswoman Kate Margolis told The Post in a statement Thursday. The incident is now being investigated internally and the company will work with investigators, she said.

“These allegations are deeply disturbing, and are completely unacceptable,” Margolis said. “From day one, the safety of the Lyft community has been our number one priority.”

 

https://nypost.com/2018/05/03/lyft-driver-accused-of-sexually-assaulting-passenger-after-offering-her-1000-for-sex/

Man held in connection with Las Vegas homeless shooting deaths (LYFT DRIVER)

 

By Blake Apgar Las Vegas Review-Journal

February 20, 2018 - 4:10 pm

A Las Vegas man suspected of fatally shooting two homeless men and injuring two other people was taken into custody late last week, law enforcement officials said.

Joshua Emmanuel Castellon, 26, faces two counts each of murder and attempted murder in addition to a federal gun charge related to the shooting spree that set Las Vegas police and some of the area’s homeless community on edge since late January.

“(The) good news is we have a suspect in custody, and we’re relieved that a dangerous person is off the streets,” Metropolitan Police Department homicide Capt. Robert Plummer told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

A Las Vegas police officer questioned Castellon early Feb. 8 after the officer saw the man sleeping outside an apartment complex near Washington Avenue and Rainbow Boulevard, according to a federal criminal complaint.

By Feb. 14, police had centered their investigation on Castellon, Metro homicide Lt. Dan McGrath said. “Once we focused on this individual, and we get these multiple pieces of information, then everything started coming together,” he said.

Castellon was stopped and taken into custody Friday on a federal gun charge related to the case, McGrath said. The federal complaint says Castellon identified himself as a driver for the Lyft ride-sharing service.

A Las Vegas Review-Journal request for comment from the ride-sharing service was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Castellon’s estranged wife told police she confronted her husband about being the shooter after she saw media coverage of the killings, but he denied any involvement, according to the complaint. She declined comment when reached by phone Tuesday.

Police still do not have a motive for the shootings, McGrath said. Police have not connected Castellon to any other shootings.

Metro does not have the weapon believed used in the shootings, and is seeking the public’s help to find it, he said. Castellon purchased the gun just days before the series of shootings began, police said.

Violent spree

Earlier this month, Las Vegas police said one man was responsible for shooting the four men at close range with a revolver, including two killed as they slept on the sidewalk.

The first shooting happened Jan. 29, when a man was shot in the arm just after midnight as he was working outside a convenience store in Logandale, about 60 miles northeast of Las Vegas, according to the criminal complaint. A police officer ran Castellon’s plate in nearby Moapa about 20 minutes before the shooting, the complaint reads.

A few hours later in Las Vegas, 51-year old Brian Wayne Clegg was shot to death as he slept outside a swap meet near Rancho Drive and Washington Avenue.

That same day, a homeless man was shot in the face as he slept near Washington and Las Vegas Boulevard, but he survived. When the man woke up, he initially thought he had an abscessed tooth, according to the complaint.

“Once (the man) arrived at the hospital, however, x-rays revealed that there was a bullet lodged in his neck,” the complaint reads.

Early Feb. 2, 64-year-old James Lewis was shot dead as he slept under his blankets near 14th Street and U.S. Highway 95.

All but one of the shooting victims were homeless.

https://www.reviewjournal.com/crime/shootings/man-held-in-connection-with-las-vegas-homeless-shooting-deaths/

Car marked with Lyft sticker involved in Logan Square hit and run

POSTED: JAN 27 2018 09:45AM CST

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - Police are looking for a female driver involved in a hit and run that injured a 68-year-old man last week in the Logan Square neighborhood on the North Side.

The man was struck by a vehicle marked with a Lyft sticker about 2:15 p.m. on Jan. 20 in the 2100 block of North Central Park Avenue, Chicago Police said. His injuries were life threatening, police said.

The vehicle that struck the man was was traveling northbound on Central Park Avenue from Dickens Avenue, and was described as a white or silver colored Nissan Versa with a Lyft sticker on the lower passenger side windshield, police said. The driver was described as a female wearing a wearing a white or beige knitted headband.

The Nissan had Illinois license plates that possibly begin with the letter A and was possibly a model from 2013 to 2017, police said.

The windshield and hood of the Nissan were damaged in the crash, police said.

http://www.fox32chicago.com/news/local/car-marked-with-lyft-sticker-involved-in-logan-square-hit-and-run
 

LYFT AND UNACCOMPANIED MINOR TRIP DEATH

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.''

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-lyft-driver-arrested-after-zip-tying-sexually-assaulting-passenger-20170721-story.html

 

 

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.

http://www.valleynewslive.com/content/news/Mpls-police-warn-about-rideshare-groping-incidents-447254203.html

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.

http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/ride-share-driver-charged-with-pointing-gun-at-passengers-in-lake-view/

FAKE UBER DRIVERS POSE REAL THREAT

Uber has quietly initiated a campaign to warn riders about fake drivers. About time they did.

Kidnapping. Sexual assault. Robbery. Uber and Lyft driver-impostors have been wreaking havoc on unsuspecting passengers for years. Our campaign lists 63 news reports of fake Uber and Lyft drivers harming riders.

Lately, there are more fakes than ever. During July, six news reports surfaced about Uber impostors hurting passengers—most involving alleged sexual assault or robbery.

These fakes vividly illustrate why it’s crucial to rigorously background-check actual Uber and Lyft drivers: Drivers control the car and its occupant.  Posing as a driver perfectly enables criminals to locate victims, secure them, and transport them to a different location to avoid getting caught.

Fake Uber and Lyft drivers who are thieves seem to operate in pairs. Typically, the second person is riding shotgun and somehow subdues or intimidates the passenger sitting in back.

As riders, men have been somewhat immune to God-awful experiences in Uber and Lyft cars. Not so with fakes. A crew of two women have repeatedly robbed men and women in New Orleans. Now, maybe they’ve franchised in AtlantaChicago has also repeatedly been the scene of fake Uber and Lyft drivers robbing unsuspecting passengers.

How do fake Uber and Lyft drivers find victims? Would-be riders are probably obvious.  They are likely standing on a street corner, late at night, obviously waiting, staring intently at their phone. Maybe these riders are inebriated or just in a hurry to get home so they don’t compare the driver’s name, face, vehicle and license plate info with what’s provided by the app. Maybe the reason why so many men have been victims of fakes is they are less vigilant about double-checking these items.

Another reason passengers climb into a fake Uber may be to save a buck. Fake Uber drivers—or real Uber drivers doing cash deals outside of the app—have become so prevalent at New York’s JFK and La Guardia Airports that Uber itself had to issue an advisory to passengers: Don’t do cash trips!

My God, we agree. Don’t arrange cash trips with Uber and Lyft drivers. There’s no insurance coverage whatsoever on these rides. Cash trips are like time bombs.

So, how are Uber and Lyft at fault for impostors?

First off, the “ridesharing” business model lends itself to fakes. It doesn’t employ vehicles with hard-to-falsify external markings. Fake drivers can just print out the Uber or Lyft logo. Undercover New York cops may be posing as Uber and Lyft drivers by doing just this. (Better tell Uber’s anti-impostor effort).

Maybe the fake-Uber-driver cops are trying to interdict the NYC Uber-branded fentanyl and heroin ring?

Second, public policy-wise, taxicabs have long been considered a form of (or extension of) public transportation. Taxicab drivers are publicly licensed. But Uber and Lyft drivers are not. Uber and Lyft go out of their way to protect drivers’ anonymity; the corporations have repeatedly refused to share driver identities with cities. Thus, unlike taxicabs, there is no local regulator or police officer on the street who can check a license.

Meaning: There’s no way for Uber and Lyft impostors to get caught by the cops or any other local regulatory agency with a street presence.

That responsibility now rests with passengers.

http://www.whosdrivingyou.org/blog/fake-uber-drivers-pose-real-threat

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

Katherine Rosenberg-DouglasContact ReporterChicago Tribune 7/21/2017

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.''

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-lyft-driver-arrested-after-zip-tying-sexually-assaulting-passenger-20170721-story.html

UBER: WHAT’S REPORTED IS “DEEPLY DISTURBING”

July 13, 2017  

Google “Uber” and “deeply disturbing.” See it?

“Uber” and “deeply troubling” works, too. Uber uses the same rote response for news stories involving sexual assault of passengers by its drivers.

Here’s Uber’s full boilerplate of late: “What’s reported in the complaint is deeply troubling and something we take extremely seriously.”

Here’s something truly disturbing. Uber and Lyft drivers stand accused of 16 sexual assaults in news stories published between June 6 and July 12 of 2017. Sixteen in a 37-day span. An average of one every 2.3 days.

One accused Uber driver in Kansas City, Yahkhahnahn Ammi, served eight years of a 16-year prison sentence for attempted murder. While in prison, the future driver was known as Perrie D. Gibson.

When he got out, he changed his name.

Uber’s name-based background checks can’t and won’t screen out this attempted murderer. Uber has had other convicted murderers sign up with fake names.

Rather than us discussing this, let’s listen in on an UberPeople.net driver forum threadon this story:

“I guess an attempted murder conviction disappears off the uber background check with a name change,” says one driver.

“Sad that it’s that easy,” responds another.

“Or you can just have your brother who ISN’T a registered sex offender open a driver account and give you the phone,” chimes in a third.

Here comes an alternate view.

“Ummm. Fares are low. So ummm. Zero effs given. Not going through nsa style checks jyst to haul jerks around for 60 cents mile,” says “Skepticaldriver.”

By “nsa style” we can assume Skepticaldriver means fingerprint-based criminal background checks conducted by law enforcement. He or she is pointing to something that grates. Uber cuts fares again and again. The corporation has turned driving into such a crap job that this driver isn’t going to do one more thing that doesn’t make him some money. It’s adding insult to injury, Skepticaldriver seems to be saying.

After years of fare cuts, Uber has refused to require fingerprint background checks partially on the grounds these type checks will hurt driver retention. But it’s the fare cuts and other varieties of driver abuse which have really hurt driver retention.

Meanwhile, as previously noted: 16 reported sexual assaults involving (mostly) Uber drivers in 37 days.

Here’s how the Kansas City Uber driver story ends: “In a statement Uber says they are taking the matter extremely seriously.”

In an exceedingly hollow statement that signifies nothing.

 

http://www.whosdrivingyou.org/blog/uber-whats-reported-is-deeply-disturbing

Woman says her Lyft driver attacked her

by: Nefertiti Jaquez Updated: Jun 20, 2017 - 10:38 AM

ATLANTA - A woman says her Lyft driver assaulted her, leaving her with bumps and bruises. A witness saw it happen and helped her call 911.

The victim told Channel 2’s Nefertiti Jaquez the attack happened along Lenox Road on June 9.

Kerri Bush said from the moment the driver pulled up he had an attitude. Seconds later, she said he attacked her.

Bush told Jaquez she needed medical attention after she claims her Lyft driver assaulted her along the Buckhead street.

"The look in his eyes, I have never seen that," Bush said.

While her physical wounds are healing Bush said she's still distraught over the incident.

"I have never had anyone attack me like that,” Bush told Jaquez. "He grabbed me and was holding me. I'm kicking him, screaming, crying."

Bush said she left work at Lenox Square and needed to get home to get ready for her second job, so she asked her boyfriend to order her a Lyft.

She said things didn't go well from the moment the driver pulled up in his silver Infinity.

“He told me I could not have a drink in his car.” Bush said. “At the time, I was like why not? Because I saw a drink in the front seat of his car. He proceeded to tell me this is his car. Take the drink out.”

She said she threw the drink away, but things escalated when he got out of the car.

“He's threatening to punch me, telling me to leave. I call 911. This man snatches the phone from my face and throws it in the middle of traffic,” Bush said. “The man pushes me from the trunk of his car, to the hood of his car, and I just slide in the street.

Moments later, she says he jumped into his car and took off. She said she reached out to Lyft but they weren't helpful.

In a statement, a LYFT spokesperson told Jaquez: “Safety of the Lyft community is our top priority. This type of violence is completely unacceptable and we take any incident like this very seriously. The driver in this incident has been permanently deactivated from the Lyft platform. We stand ready to assist law enforcement in any investigation.”

Bush said she's happy he is no longer driving for Lyft, but she said she's ready to file assault charges against the man.

Jaquez checked and Atlanta police are investigating the case. 

 

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/atlanta/woman-says-attack-by-lyft-driver-left-her-with-bruises-bumps/536018407

 

    8,000 Uber, Lyft Drivers Fail Massachusetts Background Check

    By Rakesh Sharma | April 6, 2017 — 4:44 PM EDT

    About 11.5 percent (or, 8,206 of the total 71,000) of drivers for Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft who passed background checks conducted by the ride-sharing apps have been barred from driving for the services after they failed a state government criminal and driving records check in Massachusetts.

    Of the drivers, 403 had serious offenses such as violence or sexual assaults on their records. The remaining had driving-related infractions, such as speeding tickets or driving under the influence. Drivers whose cases had been dismissed without convictions were also barred from driving for ride-sharing apps. (See also: The Story of Uber.)

    A key point to consider regarding the disqualification is the time period under scrutiny. Uber and Lyft both said the law stipulates that they restrict background checks to just seven years, and that is why the companies were unable to uncover the drivers' past histories. State government agencies peruse longer time spans for serious offenses.

    Uber represented the state government's longer time period as a loss of "access to economic opportunities" due to an "unfair and unjust indefinite lookback period." It also stated that this was an opportunity to repair the current system. However, the Mayor of Everett, a town in Massachusetts where two sexual assault cases involving Uber drivers were reported, said the release of state records showed that there was a need for government regulations for such services. (See also: Key Differences Between Uber and Lyft.)

    While there have been no reported cases of sexual assault for Lyft, Uber has been the subject of multiple lawsuits by women who have been sexually assaulted or raped by their drivers. Last year, the company also paid $28.5 million to settle a federal class-action lawsuit brought by six men who claimed that Uber was misleading riders by claiming to provide an "industry-leading background check."

    The latest news is sure to add pressure on ride-sharing apps to add more comprehensive background checks. Otherwise, they might find their market share being taken away by niche apps. For example, Safr, an Uber for women, was released recently to serve Boston and surrounding areas. (See also: Safr Is an Uber for Women.)



    Read more: 8,000 Uber, Lyft Drivers Fail Massachusetts Background Check | Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/news/8000-uber-lyft-drivers-fail-massachusetts-background-check/#ixzz4fMvWzwLY 
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    MASSACHUSETTS AND MARYLAND REJECT THOUSANDS OF UBER, LYFT DRIVERS

    April 14, 2017  

    This week the news arrived that Massachusetts and Maryland have rejected thousands of already approved Uber and Lyft drivers.

    51 applications from sex offenders. That’s how many Massachusetts found driving for Uber and Lyft.  Here are the other reasons applications were rejected:

    • 352 for criminal-history incidents related to “sex, abuse, and exploitation,”
    • 958 for violent crimes,
    • 152 for operating under the influence.

    In a follow-up Boston Globe article on how other states may be considering more stringent background checks, Lyft spokesman, Adrian Durbin made this point: “It would be a mistake to prevent good and qualified drivers around the country from earning needed income as a result of one state’s rule-making.”

    We wholeheartedly disagree.

    Massachusetts recent findings offer incontrovertible, bulletproof data that law enforcement and governments should be background-checking Uber and Lyft drivers. The sampling was enormous: 70,789 applications. The reviewer—the state of Massachusetts—is unassailable.

    In fact, we believe Massachusetts would have found more bad apples had law enforcement been able to use the gold standard of criminal background checks: fingerprints.

    It would be the most reasonable move in the world for other states and cities to emulate Massachusetts supplemental background checks of Uber and Lyft drivers. And to further bolster the effectiveness of government checks by using fingerprinting.

    Uber loves to hide data, produce questionable data, and diminish the value of data which is critical of its processes. But Uber and Lyft will be hard-pressed to deny the value of Massachusetts’ findings.

    Besides, it’s not just one state.

    Maryland’s supplemental background checks have rejected 2,850 applications for criminal offenses or driving-related issues.

    2,850.

    If you multiply Massachusetts’ and Maryland’s rejected applications by the number of states allowing Uber and Lyft to conduct their own background checks, it begins to explain why our site lists 217 reported sexual assaults and harassments against Uber and Lyft drivers.

     

    http://www.whosdrivingyou.org/blog/massachusetts-maryland-reject-thousands-uber-lyft-drivers?utm_content=buffer984d1&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    Everett Lyft driver arrested for sexual assault

    Allison Sundell , KING 7:02 PM. PDT March 30, 2017

    An Everett Lyft driver was arrested Monday for sexually assaulting a developmentally disabled woman.

    The 40-year-old male driver has been released on a $150,000 bond.

    The 22-year-old woman is diagnosed with autism, anxiety, low IQ, and has the mental age of a 13-year-old, according to court documents. She uses Lyft to get from her job to a daycare.

    The driver first started driving the woman regularly in December 2016.

    He began calling the woman on her cell phone to see how she was doing, according to documents. On March 20, the driver called the woman to ask her to dinner at Applebee’s.

    After dinner, the driver took the woman to a park in Woodinville where he choked and sexually assaulted her. The woman told police she kicked the driver, and he threatened to hurt her if she told anyone what happened.

    Lyft said the driver has been banned from using the service.

    "We are devastated by this news," Alexandra LaManna, a Lyft spokesperson, wrote in an email. "We have been in touch with the passenger’s mother and have been supporting the authorities in their investigation."

    The driver was arrested for rape in the second degree and assault in the second degree.

    http://www.king5.com/news/crime/everett-lyft-driver-arrested-for-sexual-assault/427046633

    Lyft driver charged with raping passenger

    by: Ross Cavitt Updated: Jan 26, 2017 - 11:28 PM

    COBB COUNTY, Ga. - A Cobb County woman said a Lyft driver sexually assaulted her on a ride home after a night out.

    A police report says a Smyrna woman used the Lyft service to ride home from an Atlanta bar to her Vinings area apartment.

    "It's a concern, especially for women," one Cobb County woman, who only identified herself as Audrey, said.

    Audrey said she has never taken a ride service, mostly because she has her own car, but also because you don't know who is taking you for that ride.

    "I'm not sure if the companies actually do a full background check to do a full history there," Audrey told Channel 2’s Ross Cavitt.

    But for one woman’s ride, it took a disturbing turn.

    A police report said instead of dropping the victim off at her apartment the driver instead stopped at a parking lot here and had sex with her. The report said the victim was in no condition to consent.

    Cobb County police tracked down the driver, Jerome Antonio Booze, of Decatur, charging him with felony rape.

    Lyft's website said they do full background checks on drivers, eliminating anyone with a felony, violent or sex crimes.

    A Lyft representative sent Cavitt a statement saying; 

    “We are devastated by this news. The individual in question has been banned from using the Lyft app. We have been assisting law enforcement and are available to continue supporting the authorities in their investigation.”

    It is unclear how long Booze had been using his Nissan Versa to drive for Lyft.

    Cobb County police told Cavitt an incident like this was a rare occasion.

    Booze is being held without bond in the Cobb County Jail. 

    http://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/cobb-county/cobb-county-lyft-driver-charged-with-raping-passengers/488272764

    Lyft sued by Westwood woman over allegations of driver sexual assault

     

    POSTED BY TONI MCALLISTER ON JANUARY 19, 2017 IN CRIME 

    Lyft Inc. was sued Thursday by a woman who alleges one of the transportation company’s drivers picked her up from her workplace in the Mid-Wilshire district in 2015 and drove her to Baldwin Park, where he sexually assaulted her.

    The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges assault, battery, false imprisonment, negligent hiring and retention and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The plaintiff is seeking unspecified damages.

    A Lyft representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

    According to her court papers, the woman works as a “Chinese professor.” She says she ordered a ride from Lyft on Jan. 28, 2015, and her intended destination was her home in Westwood.

    But after she got into the vehicle, the Lyft driver locked the passenger doors internally, secured the windows and “told plaintiff that he intended to have sex with her,” according to the complaint.

    “Plaintiff begged for her life and demanded defendant take her home, which was the opposite direction on the 10 (Santa Monica) Freeway,” the suit states.

    The woman was driven to an isolated field in Baldwin Park near the San Bernardino (10) Freeway, where the driver “sexually assaulted and battered plaintiff,” the suit alleges.

    After the attack, the driver drove the woman “to a public location where she ran for her life and summoned police,” the suit states.

    The suit alleges Lyft negligently hired, supervised and maintained the driver, who is identified in the complaint only as “Marvin Doe.”

    –City News Service

    http://mynewsla.com/crime/2017/01/19/lyft-sued-by-westwood-woman-over-allegations-of-driver-sexual-assault/

    Women Suing Lyft Claim Driver Showed Up Drunk, Caused Horrific Crash

     

    December 31, 2016 7:25 PM

    SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Two Southern California women are suing Lyft.

    They claim the guy dispatched to be their designated driver showed up drunk and caused a crash that nearly killed them.

    Lisa Hite and Teri Cortines said their Sunday morning Lyft ride last September ended in a horrifying crash.

    “I kind of felt us turning left, and next think I know, I was flipping,” said Hite.

    “I thought I was going to die in that car,” added Cortines.

    They had called a Lyft so they could have a couple drinks and watch football. Instead, police arrested their Lyft driver for being under the influence.

    He’s accused of making an illegal left turn through oncoming traffic and causing the severe crash.

    “You can’t believe at 10:00 in the morning that a Lyft driver is going to be picking you up drunk,” said Cortines.

    “It was shocking to say the least,” added Hite.

    They both went to the hospital with bruises, cuts and soreness. Hite says she even suffered a heart attack immediately after the crash.

    They’re now working with an attorney and filed a lawsuit this week against the driver and the company, Lyft.

    Attorney Paul N. Philips said the company should be doing more.

    “More regular checks, more DMV checks, probably implement driver training course,” he said.

    Lyft sent this statement:

    “Safety is our top priority and we were saddened to hear about this incident. We have a strict zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policy for Lyft drivers and any behavior threatening the safety of a Lyft community member is not tolerated. The driver has been permanently banned from using Lyft.

    “I will never be able to get into another ride-share vehicle and be comfortable again, ever,” said Hite.

    Which is a bit ironic since Hite is a driver for Uber. But she’s now questioning all ride-sharing companies’ practices.

    “I applied and did the application and gave them all my information and I was approved within 24 hours,” said Hite. “I’m not sure that’s adequate to actually check my background.”

    Both women say they’ll never be the same.

    “It was just, such a traumatic event, and it’s not just what happened that day, it’s what’s still happening,” said Cortines. “It’s the pain — I’m still in every day.”

    http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/12/31/women-suing-lyft-claim-driver-showed-up-drunk-caused-horrific-crash/

    Uber and Lyft’s arguments against fingerprinting make little sense

     

    By Editorial Board January 2

    MANY OF the nation’s biggest cities have tried to require ride-booking services such as Uber and Lyft to establish fingerprint background checks for their drivers, in the interest of public safety, only to discover that the companies, which hate the idea, have them over a barrel. The pressure on local leaders can be intense: Don’t they want their town to remain in (or join) the 21st century? And what about the thousands of people who make ends meet as part-time drivers in the gig economy — don’t they deserve the extra income?

    In the face of threats by Uber and Lyft to leave or stay out of a city, a county or even an entire state, many public officials have buckled, much as Maryland’s Public Service Commission did last month in dropping its effort to force fingerprint background checks. (It did beef up rules for biographic background checks.)

    The fact is that fingerprinting is widely required for bus, taxi and limousine drivers; it is generally regarded by law enforcement as the gold standard of background checks. Given reports nationally that some gig drivers have assaulted passengers, fingerprinting makes sense as an added measure to protect the public.

    Uber and Lyft complain that fingerprinting is unfair, onerous, racially tilted and unreliable. Those arguments are largely specious. For one thing, both firms submit to the requirement in New York City, and Uber also does so in Houston. In other words, if the city (and profit potential) is big enough, the firms suck it up and bear the burden. And if the city isn’t big enough, the firms have shown themselves willing to walk, as they did when voters in Austinpassed a ballot measure requiring fingerprint background checks this past spring.

    The firms say they worry fingerprinting is a hassle that may discourage the flow of new drivers — about a half-million have already signed up across the country. In fact, the burden is minimal: In Houston, prospective Uber drivers pay about $40 to be fingerprinted, a process that takes about 10 minutes.

    As for the argument that fingerprinting disadvantages black prospective drivers because they are disproportionately and sometimes erroneously represented in criminal databases — well, yes. Yet few dispute that fingerprinting provides the public with added protection when it comes to hiring bus drivers, teachers, security guards, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, nurses, government employees and many other prospective employees in sensitive occupations that involve interacting with the public.

    The firms’ real reason for opposing fingerprinting may be that it (slightly) strengthens the argument that their drivers are employees and not, as Uber and Lyft insist, private contractors. As employees, they would be eligible to press for a range of benefits that would upend the firms’ labor costs and business models.

    Uber and Lyft say their own biographic background checks, performed by private contractors, are just as efficient in weeding out applicants with criminal backgrounds. Not many law enforcement agencies buy that. Fingerprinting isn’t a foolproof tool for background checks, but neither are the biographic databases used by the ride-booking services now. The best way to protect the public is to insist on both.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/uber-and-lyfts-arguments-against-fingerprinting-make-little-sense/2017/01/02/a0926aae-ce1b-11e6-b8a2-8c2a61b0436f_story.html?utm_term=.a0666c9bb1b9