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US: Indian-origin Uber driver pleads guilty to kidnapping passenger, wire fraud

Devdiscourse News Desk | Newyork | Updated: 15-03-2019 11:11 IST | Created: 15-03-2019 10:36 IST
US: Indian-origin Uber driver pleads guilty to kidnapping passenger, wire fraud
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An Indian-origin man working as a driver for ride-sharing company Uber in the US has pleaded guilty to kidnapping a sleeping passenger and driving her more than 60 miles from her destination to boost his fare. Harbir Parmar, 25 of New York pled guilty in White Plains federal court to kidnapping and wire fraud.

He was arrested in October last year. Parmar pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He will be sentenced in June. US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said Parmar took advantage of a vulnerable woman who utilised a ridesharing service by kidnapping and terrorising her. "In addition, he charged many of his ridesharing customers with fraudulent fees," he said adding that Parmar will now be held accountable for his brazen crimes.

According to the indictment and statements made during the plea proceedings, Parmar, who worked as a driver for Uber, picked up the woman passenger in February 2018 traveling from Manhattan to White Plains in upstate New York. After the woman fell asleep in the backseat of the vehicle, Parmar changed her destination in Uber's mobile application to an address in Boston, Massachusetts, and proceeded to drive toward that location.

When the passenger woke up, the vehicle was in Connecticut. She asked Parmar that she be taken to White Plains or to the police station, but he refused. He instead dropped her off on the side of highway in Connecticut. The woman went to a nearby convenience store where she sought assistance. In addition, from December 2016 through February 2018, Parmar sent false information about the destinations of Uber's customers through its mobile application on several occasions.

At times, he also sent false information about the application of a cleaning fee to be applied to the accounts of the company's customers. In these instances, Uber customers filed complaints about being overcharged for their rides. These instances have resulted in thousands of dollars in improper charges to the accounts of Uber's customers.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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