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Beware Of Fake Ride Share Drivers, Chicago Police Warn

By Ted Cox | March 22, 2017 10:17am
 Near North Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer talks with a local resident after Tuesday's public-safety forum.
Near North Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer talks with a local resident after Tuesday's public-safety forum.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

LINCOLN PARK — In the wake of a series of ride-sharing-related crimes, Chicago Police are warning users of the ride services to make sure they're getting into the right car —  especially when leaving bars after a night of drinking.

Chicago Police have reported robberies by people posing as ride share drivers. And Skokie Police arrested Musaab S. Afandi, 33, of Glenview, and charged him with three counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault and two counts of aggravated kidnapping for allegedly pretending to be an Uber driver and raping two women, according to the Sun-Times.

Afandi was charged with the felonies after two separate incidents over the last two months. He was accused of picking up the women outside of Chicago bars and driving them to Skokie, where he allegedly raped them, according to the Sun-Times.

At a Lincoln Park public safety forum at St. James Lutheran Church, 2050 N. Fremont Ave., Tuesday night, officers from the Near North Police District said more than a handful of people had recently been robbed after climbing into the wrong car at closing time.

"It happens," Near North Cmdr. Paul Bauer assured people in the crowd. "I read these reports."

Det. Chris Dingle said it was not an isolated incident and that more than a few such robberies had recently been reported.

Bauer said the Near North District has a sixth of all Chicago's licensed liquor establishments. He advised residents to "harden the target," whether that be "your car or your house or yourself." That included double-checking your ride-sharing car and driver against the pickup confirmation received on your smartphone before climbing in.

Chicago Police News Affairs did not immediately respond to requests for additional details.

Uber issued a statement advising riders to consult a link on safety tips, including double-checking your car and driver and sharing trip details with friends and family.

Lyft offered much the same, with spokesman Scott Coriell pointing out the company "provides in-app photos of the driver and vehicle, real-time ride tracking, digital receipts, two-way rating systems and professionally administered criminal background checks."

Coriell added, however, that Lyft is also introducing a new feature called Amp, which will replace pink mustaches with a dashboard beacon that will glow in a color matching the same color on the rider's phone when the driver arrives at the pickup location.