Tampa police: Viral airport sex-trafficking post not what it seems
TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Tampa police and Uber both say a viral Facebook post about a possible human trafficking incident involving an Uber ride from the airport is not what it seems.
The post was written by a woman who said she requested an Uber ride from Tampa International Airport on Sunday night. The woman said she was about 10 minutes into the ride when the correct Uber driver called her -- asking where she was.
The woman, according to the post, said the driver of her ride refused to stop and didn’t respond to her. The passenger eventually jumped out of the car while it was still moving, according to her Facebook post.
The social media post also claimed the driver was involved in human trafficking, which is false, according to Tampa police. A spokesperson told FOX 13 that the driver was a “legitimate” Uber driver and was supposed to pick up another person at the airport. That driver spoke limited English, police said, and wanted to take the passenger to the location planned for the other passenger.
Police said they later spoke to the Uber drivers involved, and both have similar cars. They said there was no evidence of a planned kidnapping.
"It looks like the person who posted on Facebook got into the wrong car and then noticed that, you know, we are not going in the right direction. Well, they were going in the right direction -- if it was the right person in the car. So it became very confusing," police spokesman Steve Hegarty explained. "How that became some kind of sex trafficking thing is unclear to me and we've checked into it. The other driver is a legitimate Uber driver who was there to pick up somebody else."
An Uber spokesperson told FOX 13 that the company had been in touch with law enforcement, as well as both drivers. They agreed with TPD's conclusion, and pointed out that social media posts about Uber being used for human trafficking have recently been discredited by investigators in Boston and Atlanta as well.
Hegarty and Uber both took the opportunity to remind ride-share users to double-check their scheduled driver and vehicle before starting a trip.