Uber reassures customers after woman is robbed, threatened with rape by fake driver

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SOHO, Manhattan — A local woman got into what she'd thought was a trustworthy Uber driver's car. Instead, she was getting into danger, according to detectives. They're now  searching for the imposter Uber driver who'd threatened to shoot and rape the woman.  Meanwhile, the Uber corporation is trying to assure its customers that they're safe.

The NYPD has issued a sketch of the man whose car the unidentified woman, 24, boarded in the early morning hours of May 15th.

She'd summoned an Uber around 1:30 A.M. to the intersection of Mangin Street and East Houston Street .  When the car driven by the suspect passed by, she'd thought it was her Uber and got in.  What followed was an unforgettable journey, in the worst way, according to investigators.

The man drove her uptown on nearby FDR Drive.  However, she didn't need to travel in that direction.  When they got to 96th Street on the FDR, the driver told the young woman that he would shoot and rape her if she didn't hand over money.

She gave up her wallet, $20, her iPhone, a debit card, and the jacket and gold earrings she was wearing, before managing to bail out of the car near the junction of Park Avenue and the FDR, uptown in Harlem.

"That is scary," said Lola Anava, a self-described former Uber customer, who said she'd stopped using the service because of its costs, not necessarily because of its safety record.

She was among quite a few female women Uber customers who PIX11 News encountered who'd shown concern over what had happened.

Nonetheless, the concerned women who spoke with PIX11 also said that Uber's protocols for pickup and dropoff generally left them feeling safe.

"A stranger is not going to know my name," said Uber customer Anna Hamann, referring to any driver who'd be dispatched to pick her up.  "They usually want to check [my name] before I get into the car."

That is standard procedure for drivers.  They're given the name and location of the person seeking to get picked by an Uber driver, via the Uber app.

Meanwhile, customers are given even more information about the driver who'll transport them, long before they get in the car.

A potential passenger receives the driver's name, along with a company-approved photograph, the driver's license plate number and vehicle make and model, according to information supplied to PIX11 News by Uber.

Customers agreed as well. "You can actually follow the [Uber] app to know where the vehicle is," said customer Florence Watson.  If the person stopping to pick the customer up is "not the Uber driver," she continued, "you wouldn't have that same tracking information."

Her friend, Courtney Mitchell, who's also an Uber customer, agreed.

"As a consumer," she said, "you have to do your due diligence and make sure.  Sorry it happened to [the victim], but she's got to pay attention."

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