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Uber driver plans scheme to rob Tampa passenger with accomplice on Halloween

TAMPA — An Orlando Uber driver who admitted to strategizing a scheme to rob a passenger in Tampa on Halloween turned himself in to authorities, deputies said.

About 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Uber driver Christian Kirby Noda picked up 74-year-old Hayat Brancheau at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino, 5225 Orient Road, after she requested a ride home through the ride-sharing app.

After picking her up, Noda, 21, told Brancheau that he needed to stop and put air in his tires at a Shell gas station, which was about five minutes away. After Noda got out of the car, a black male, wearing a mask, approached the car and told Brancheau to move to the backseat. In fear of her life, she complied.

"Do what he says, he has a gun," Noda told Brancheau, and then sat in the driver's seat, deputies said. The unknown male ordered Noda to drive to several banks to withdraw money from Brancheau's debit card and took two $500 poker chips from her purse.

Noda then drove to a Speedway gas station in Dover, where Brancheau was ordered to get out of the car. The two men then switched seats and drove away.

Deputies began to investigate and found that Brancheau's card had been used in Polk and Osceola counties. When they interviewed Noda, he said he wasn't a victim, but part of the scheme. He told authorities he specifically drove to Tampa with a plan to rob a passenger with the help of the unidentified male. Noda told deputies the male had been carrying a replica firearm.

They also found Noda with the two missing poker chips, deputies said. He turned himself in at the Osceola County Jail. He is facing charges of armed kidnapping and armed robbery and is being held on $22,500 bail.

The Sheriff's Office is asking anyone with information to contact authorities at 813-247-8200.

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