FBI Warning: Rideshare Services Used for Abducting Children

There is a disturbing trend among ride-sharing vehicles abducting minors, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Ridesharing Abduction Trend

The FBI is warning that abduction incidents have become a “trend,” and issued a public service announcement about the “criminal actors”. Criminal actors use rideshare services because of the “lower likelihood of detection and ease of facilitation”.

“Since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, law enforcement received several reports of rideshare services being used to facilitate child abduction,” the FBI said last month according to the Hill.

The FBI warned that criminals are using ride-sharing vehicles due to the “lower likelihood of detection and ease of facilitation.”

“While other modes of transportation were used during the pandemic, the privacy of ride-share services allowed criminal actors to obfuscate potential witness identification and afforded them direct transportation,” the FBI stated.

Frightening Rideshare Abduction Examples

Here are two cases where children escaped rideshare abductions:

  1. A child was abducted in Mexico City in February when the 7-year-old boy’s father asked a ride-share driver to make a pit stop at a flower stand. The father exited the vehicle and the driver left with the young boy. The child was recovered after he called his mom from the car.
  2. A 16-year-old Texas boy who requested an Uber ride found himself abducted. The teenager had ordered an Uber for a roughly 20-mile trip in April and was allegedly offered something to drink during the ride. The boy woke up later that day at a home 31 miles away from his destination. He fled the property to a nearby home and alerted authorities.

Ridesharing and Underage Passengers

Car-share services have exploded in popularity over the last decade. Even though Uber and Lyft ban people under the age of 18 from having their own accounts or from riding in car shares without a guardian, some still get around the rules by using an adult’s account. 

“I know a lot of drivers who’ve faced outraged parents,” Larry Duncan, a Lyft driver in Bowling Green, Kentucky, told Vox in 2019. “They yell and scream for you to give their kids a ride, and what some of us try to do, we say that the parent can ride with the kid, but they can’t be alone.”

Almost 80% of parents of daughters were worried their child would face assault, while 55% of parents worried the same could happen to their sons.

Here, an Uber spokesperson responded to Fox News Digital:

“Safety is paramount to the Uber experience and the report outlined by the FBI is extremely concerning. We are always working to build features and policies designed with safety in mind, which is why we’ve introduced many safety features into the app, like the Emergency Button; Live Help from a Safety Agent; Text-to-911 capability (where available); and GPS tracking on every trip. We also aim to do our part to raise awareness of these societal issues through education to help drivers spot the signs of human trafficking and report it.”

Drivers at Uber go through background checks on federal, state, and local levels, as well as provide valid phone numbers, email addresses, and payment methods.

“Teens may feel awkward or inhibited to speak up if they notice a driver is not driving safely or if something does ‘not feel right’ about the car or the driver. Parents should empower their teens to feel comfortable speaking out or refusing a ride. They should be reminded that they are getting into a vehicle with someone they do not know, and that it is essential for them be especially attentive to anything that may risk their safety”, said a pediatrician and co-director of the 2019 poll Gary Freed to the Detroit Free Press.

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