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Uber safety specialists assist legislation enforcement combat carjackings, intercourse trafficking to maintain riders, drivers protected

CHICAGO (WLS) – It may be a local driver who has been the victim of carjacking or a driver threatened with human trafficking. In an exclusive ABC7 interview, an Uber security expert explains to the I-Team how their own security experts work with the police and how the app’s technology can keep you safe.

WATCH: The video shows a rideshare driver who was stolen in West Town

Uber announced to the I-Team that it had hired law enforcement experts like former US intelligence agent Billy Kewell from Chicago to help police catch suspected criminals.

“If the Uber platform has a crime linked, you have now uploaded information, right? Since you used it to commit a crime, you have now uploaded account identifiers, so to speak, which then law enforcement can be used to identify suspects apprehend and locate this crime, “said Kewell.

These crimes could include human trafficking and carjacking.

RELATED: As Chicago Carjackings Rise, Ridesharing Drivers Make Photo Requests as a deterrent

“We have one specific case where, in response to one of these carjacking incidents, our investigation team was able to dive into the data, use their investigative tools, and figure out the link between driver accounts,” said Kewell.

Two 19-year-old drivers were subsequently charged with vehicle hijacking and robbery in connection with carjacking an Uber driver in West Garfield Park in March.

Uber said it helped police locate these suspects by using travel details that focused on a “specific address” and “payment method” of one of the suspects.

In February, ridesharing drivers told the I-Team that they were concerned about the rise in carjackings and so-called “phantom profiles” that drivers could use fake names, pictures and other methods to harass drivers without being identified.

Since then, Uber has announced some changes.

RELATED: Uber Adds New Driver Verification Feature to Protect Ridesharing Drivers From Carjacking And Crime

“If someone tries to create a driver account using an anonymous payment method, be it a gift card, a Venmo account or a prepaid debit card, they now have to upload or present an identification document, whether it is a driver’s license, state ID or one Passport deals, “said Kewell.

Kewell said his team is also working with police on human trafficking cases. They’ve helped catch suspects, broken the human trafficking rings, and even covered the drivers.

“If law enforcement came to us and they had an investigation into which they believed human trafficking was taking place on our platform, we would work with them to go back to investigative tools, delve into the data, look at linked accounts, right. associated with payment methods and shared devices, and so on, and which can then inevitably lead to a larger network of accounts using Uber, as you know, as a sort of intermediary for human trafficking victims, “Kewell said.

In addition, Uber works with the nonprofit “Polaris”, which provides Uber drivers with this training on identifying victims of human trafficking.

“What human trafficking is and what isn’t, but also the nuances of the crime that it’s not always something on your face – physical violence or something like that, but that really psychological manipulation can play a really important role,” he told Elaine McCartin with Polaris .

There are red flags that drivers need to watch out for:

  • A driver who is disoriented, lost, or anxious;
  • Younger drivers who may not know what city they are in;
  • Signs of physical abuse;
  • Or requests from drivers to be dropped off at a hidden entrance.
  • “So traffickers, just like the rest of us, have to use means of transport to get from point A to point B. So any type of transport, whether with ground vehicles on site, in the air with airlines, trains, buses – they become us find a way to get from point A to point B, “McCartin said. “So Uber is not unique at dealing with this issue, but they are really committed to how they incorporate these security initiatives into everything they do in their business.”

    Polaris data from 2019 shows that there were 11,500 human trafficking situations in the United States

    It’s important to note that in order to protect privacy, Uber requires the police to obtain a subpoena or go through other legal processes to obtain information about the driver in an emergency.

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