Fake Uber driver charged with kidnapping in U.S.

A university student was found unconscious in the backseat

An Alabama man is charged with kidnapping by pretending to be an Uber driver to pick up a university student who was found unconscious in the back seat of his car, police said Monday.

Investigators found multiple images on the driver’s cellphone of at least one other college-aged woman who appeared unconscious in the vehicle, said Capt. Gary Hood, commander of the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit.

Tommy Beard, 61, was released on bond Friday on a first-degree kidnapping charge, court records show. The records don’t list an attorney for him, and calls to a phone number listed for him in those records went unanswered.

“It’s alarming, absolutely,” Hood said.

READ MORE: Airports feared losing revenue to Uber and Lyft. Here’s what happened.

“He had a fake Uber sign that he bought online, and he admitted that he wasn’t an Uber driver,” Hood added.

Various Uber decals and lights for vehicles — many featuring the Uber logo — were available Monday on Amazon.com. A representative for Amazon said late Monday she was looking into the matter.

Uber LED signs were also available Monday through Walmart.com. Walmart representatives didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Hood said Beard picked up the 22-year-old woman near the University of Alabama campus and drove her about 7 miles (11 kilometres) away. A deputy noticed a car alongside the road and stopped to investigate, which led to his arrest March 2. Court records say the woman remembers being at a bar in Tuscaloosa but nothing else until the deputy woke her up.

A loaded handgun was found in Beard’s vehicle, but he had a legal permit for it, Hood said.

READ MORE: Proposed class action against Uber can proceed

Hood advises Uber users to arrange their rides through the company’s app, since it has certain safety features built-in. Users are given the driver’s name and a description of the vehicle before they get inside, for instance.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tractor fire east of Ponoka doused

Fire was Monday afternoon

Ponoka skate park closed due to vandalism, COVID-19 violations

Town says ‘extensive’ damage to be repaired

160 new COVID-19 cases reported in Alberta on Tuesday

Province now has 1,571 active cases

Return to class has gone better than expectation, WCPS says

Staff with Wolf Creek Public Schools say the return to in-class teaching has gone very well

Drive-in movie draws full parking lot

Town hosted showing of Onward Sept. 25

No safe mask option for bearded members, RCMP says, but force is exploring solutions

RCMP says respirator not mandatory in all front-line situations, but sometimes needed to reduce risk

Best of Ponoka Readers’ Choice Awards 2020

Here is your chance to show your support for the outstanding services… Continue reading

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

VIDEO: The Alan Jackson experience

Featuring Aaron Halliday at the Ponoka Legion

CP Holiday Train cancelled this year; virtual concert to be held in lieu of event

Canadian Pacific will still donate to local food banks in its network and host a virtual concert.

Survey finds doctors worry supplies of flu vaccine, PPE will lag demand

Canadian health officials have said additional flu vaccines have been ordered to meet expected demand

Ahead of likely second wave, 60% of Canadians relaxing COVID-19 measures

Proportion of Canadians following safety measures has dropped by 3 per cent in the past two weeks

Ponoka has a new seed library

Calling all gardeners: Ponoka Jubilee Library has started a community seed library… Continue reading

Most Read