Two men who pretended to be Uber drivers picked up college-aged women and sexually assaulted them.
Passengers who use Uber and Lyft beware – there are predators out there pretending to be affiliated with these companies and picking up unsuspecting victims. Jumping into a vehicle with someone you don’t know is risky in itself, of course, and there are criminals out there impersonating ride share drivers to carry out sinister tasks.
Tommy Wayne Beard, 62, of Alabama was recently arrested on charges of first-degree kidnapping, second-degree kidnapping, and impersonating a transportation network service driver after he pretended to work for Uber and began picking up intoxicated college women to take advantage of them.
An officer pulled Beard over for a routine traffic stop and noticed a 22-year-old female in the back unconscious. Beard had already traveled seven miles in the opposite direction of the women’s home when he was stopped, which instantly raised red flags.
The officer began to try to wake the passenger, and when he was finally able to, the woman said she remembered leaving the bar. However, she couldn’t recall actually getting into the vehicle. She was distraught and unable to tell the officer what had happened after she left.
Because she couldn’t recall any details, Beard was initially allowed to return home. However, suspicious that a crime could have occurred given the women’s condition, police obtained a warrant a few days later.
The follow up paid off. A search of Beard’s property led to officers seizing a loaded firearm, a bottle of hair conditioner, a fake Uber vehicle sign, and an artificial, erect male genitalia device he had been evidently wearing the night he was driving. A cell phone was also seized with photos stored on it of the unconscious woman, fully clothed but focused on her chest and crotch areas.
During the course of their investigation, authorities discovered Beard had been making a habit of picking up women from bars in the Tuscaloosa area, which is home to the University of Alabama, so he could engage in similar deviant behavior. They were getting into his vehicle under the pretense that he would drive them home and he used their intoxication to his advantage. It was not clear how many passengers had been victims of Beard’s acts, or if anything occurred when the women remained conscious. He was released from jail after placing a $45,000 bond and is due back in court in the coming weeks.
In related news, Willie Foust of Fort Myers, Florida, had also been pretending to be an Uber driver when he was charged with sexually assault a college student and sentenced last month to 30 years in prison. Willie Foust pleaded guilty to sexual battery after the victim testified against him at trial.
Similar to Beard, Foust had been picking up college-aged female passengers near a campus. His victim was an 18-year-old Florida Gulf Coast University freshman looking for a ride back to her dorm from a bar during a storm. Foust, 35, pulled his vehicle over. When she stepped in, the student asked if he was an Uber driver and he indicated he was. He then drove her to a parking lot where he raped her.
This wasn’t Foust’s first run-in with the law, either. In 2009, a 14-year-old girl accused Foust of asking for sexual favors after he offered her a ride from Walmart, and in 2016, he was convicted of strangling his girlfriend.