They were requesting an Uber. Instead, a phony picked them up and robbed them
CHINATOWN (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Police are searching for a man who allegedly posed as an Uber driver, then robbed and assaulted his passengers.
Sources say around 2:45 a.m. Sunday, a group of friends were leaving Scarlet nightclub in Chinatown.
They were waiting outside and were in the process of requesting an Uber when a man approached them.
Sources say the man, described as having blond, curly hair wearing a white T-shirt and grey shorts, told the group he was an Uber driver.
The three friends, including a 23-year-old military man and 22-year-old woman, hopped into the suspect's white minivan believing they'd be on their way to their destination.
About five miles later, sources say the driver stopped his car near Moanalua Middle School and hopped out.
He then demanded payment from the group.
Sources say another vehicle pulled up behind them and a man and woman got out to join the confrontation.
The three suspects began assaulting the 23-year-old victim until he gave up cash and his cell phone.
Sources say the suspects got back into their vehicles and took off in opposite directions on Mahiole Street.
The other two passengers were not hurt.
"We have been aware of cases where people have posed as ride share drivers and that's part of the relationship we have with law enforcement, so we've actually put out a proactive safety awareness campaign," said Uber Spokesperson Kayla Whaling.
Whaling says cases like these are becoming more common.
www.whosdrivingyou.org is a website that promotes for-hire vehicle safety. A compiled list shows almost 100 incidents across the country of people posing as ride share drivers.
Uber says passengers should be more wary and keep in mind: "When you request a ride on Uber, you are provided with the license plate, make and model of the vehicle as well as the photo of driver and their name," said Whaling. "We encourage people to verify they're getting into the right vehicle before leaving."
And if ever approached in person, tell them you've already booked your ride, or just say "no" and keep walking.
"To request a trip with Uber, you don't have to stand at the street corner waiting for a ride," said Whaling. "If you're at a restaurant or at home, you can do it safely inside somewhere."
Anyone with information linked to this case should contact Honolulu police or CrimeStoppers at 808-955-8300.
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