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They believed they were in an Uber, moments later they were screaming to be let free

Uber and Lyft riders share their safety tips

Uber riders in Kansas share some safety tips and advice on using ride-sharing programs.
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Uber riders in Kansas share some safety tips and advice on using ride-sharing programs.

Four young adults could do nothing but scream and confront a man claiming to be a Myrtle Beach Uber driver when they learned the car when they were riding in was not part of the ride-sharing program.

“I was terrified for our whole group,” said Jen, who did not want to provide her last name.

As they left Broadway at the Beach, the group learned they were in the wrong vehicle, Jen said the driver kept trying to lock the doors. A male friend in the front seat began to yell at the driver. In the back seat, Jen was able to get one of the locks open and the group fled for safety.

The Aug. 10 ordeal left the foursome crying and shaken. But, Jen also took to social media to share her account and remind others to be safe when using the ride-sharing program.

Uber, like other programs, serves as a taxi-like option between drivers and riders. When riders call for an Uber, they are provided real-time information about their driver and the car’s location using phone GPS. A driver can also see the rider’s information.

Jen, 20, her sister and a friend were visiting Myrtle Beach from Pennsylvania. The three met another young adult while on vacation and the group of four went to Broadway at the Beach for the evening.

As they left at about 1:30 a.m. they called for an Uber. A driver pulled up and Jen said she noticed the make of the vehicle was different than the one listed in the app. The group was waiting for a Chevy, but a Dodge SUV pulled up. She asked the driver if he was “Aaron” — who the Uber app said would be picking them up — and he said “yes.”

While some might have paused there, Jen said earlier in their vacation they had a similar situation where information didn’t match. That driver said the app didn’t update with his new car information. They believed the Broadway at the Beach car was a similar situation.

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A screenshot of Uber safety tips in their app Provided by Uber

Other signs also didn’t appear right, Jen said, such as the driver was using his own GPS and not the one through the Uber app. As the group started to leave, that is when the correct driver — who could see the group he was supposed to be picking up moving through the app — told them they were in the wrong car.

Jen informed the group about the situation, which is when the driver locked the doors, Jen said. The group yelled and got in the driver’s face which stopped him from driving quickly, she said.

The four opened the locks and escaped the ride as the driver sped away.

Since Jen was on the phone with the correct driver during the ordeal, she said she didn’t think about calling the police. The group was also unable to get the suspect’s license plate.

Jen said the driver had tan skin and was about 50 years old. He had an accent, but Jen couldn’t tell the dialect.

After fleeing the car, Jen said the correct driver picked them up and they returned to their hotel. During the ride, Jen said the driver mentioned Myrtle Beach ranks high in human trafficking issues. Jen said she was “very thankful” that the driver called and informed them they were in the wrong car.

Uber’s website provides its riders tips about ways to stay safe, including to make sure the driver, car and license plate number match the information provided through the app. Users should not get in a car that doesn’t match and to report the issue to Uber.

The Uber program also provides an estimated time of arrival so people can share with family and friends and when they expect to arrive.

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