On Sunday night, Toronto Police released news about a sexual assault incident that took place this past weekend, on Saturday, April 20th. A 34-year-old woman had ordered a car online in the King Street West and Shaw Street area. She was approached by a man driving a four-door sedan, who was posing as her Uber driver. Upon getting into the car, the woman was sexually assaulted by the driver. The woman was assaulted on the same day as another Toronto Uber driver was charged for sexually assaulting two female passengers. It's one of several Toronto Uber sexual assaults that have made headlines recently.
Toronto Police finally charged and arrested a male Uber driver, 36-year-old Taneem Aziz, for two separate sexual assault incidents. Aziz was also charged with forcible confinement and extortion in connection to the two assaults. Police believe there may be other victims as well.
The first assault took place this past September and involved a 24-year-old female passenger. The passenger entered Aziz's SUV in the Dundas Street East and Sackville Street area, believing that it was the ride-share car that she ordered. Aziz allegedly drove off to a secluded area, locking the female passenger inside his car. After sexually assaulting her, Aziz continued to drive around and eventually let her out.
Aziz assaulted a second female passenger earlier this month, on the morning of April 8th. Aziz picked up a 21-year-old female passenger in the Royal York Road and Evans Avenue area. Aziz locked her inside the vehicle and drove outside of the city, to a fast food restaurant parking lot in Mississauga, where the female passenger allegedly tried to get help from a bystander. She was seemingly unsuccessful, as he later drove the SUV to a side street and sexually assaulted her. Police weren't notified of her assault until 1:00 PM that afternoon.
Below is a photo of Taneem Aziz, provided by Toronto Police:
As for the sexual assault that took place this past Saturday, police are still unable to identify the suspect but have provided a physical description. "The suspect is described as 30-35, dark brown complexion, young looking face, stocky build, and wearing a red shirt," reads the release.
Last year, Uber Canada announced its partnership with Crime Stoppers in an effort to improve safety. The initiative involves a new resource for Uber drivers to anonymously report suspicious activity or crime while on the road, to make communities safer. Uber Canada also has passenger safety guidelines online, in which they outline the safety measures that are built into the passenger experience.
Narcity reached out to Uber for comment about how the ride-share company plans to respond to the driver-related sexual assaults. Uber responded with the following statement: "What’s been reported is horrible and nothing anyone should go through. We are fully cooperating with law enforcement and will continue to provide any information to them that would be helpful for their investigation. As soon as we learned of this, we removed this individual’s access to the app."
Just one month ago, Toronto Police released a public safety alert for yet another fake Uber driver, 35-year-old Muhammad Farhad. Farhad allegedly disappeared from the Toronto area after being released on $10,000 bail for theft and sexual assault-related charges. Farhad was on house arrest at the time and had a curfew of 8:00 PM.
On August 20th, 2017, Farhad posed as an Uber driver and assaulted a 25-year-old female passenger outside of Toronto's Rebel nightclub. After sexually assaulting her, Farhad allegedly stole the victim's debit card from her purse and charged her for the ride.
Police are once again reminding the public to check the make, model and license plate of the vehicle before entering it, to ensure that it matches the information of the ride-share car on the app.
In response to recent crimes committed by fake ridesharing drivers in both the United States and in Canada, Uber is launching an in-app alert system to improve passenger safety.