TAMPA — A viral Facebook post about an Uber ride gone very wrong in the Tampa Bay area turned out to be quite the misunderstanding, police say.
In the post, someone with the user name Emmy Hurley said she hailed an Uber in Tampa on Monday night but soon realized she had gotten into the wrong car. Hurley wrote that the driver refused to respond to her requests, or stop the car, so Hurley said she bailed out while it was moving.
"I later found out she is a sex traffic worker," Hurley wrote. "They use women to lure people in, and possibly hang out in the Uber lot to steal rides of similar looking cars."
Hurley tagged her location as "Tampa," but did not mention a specific location. By Wednesday morning, the post had been shared about 275,000 times and drawn more than 200 comments.
It turns out Hurley did get into the wrong car, but Tampa police said the incident at Tampa International Airport was actually a misunderstanding — not an attempted kidnapping attempt.
Tampa police addressed the case on Wednesday to clarify the situation. Hurley reported the incident to police on Tuesday and detectives investigated, contacting everyone involved.
It turns out that the woman who picked Hurley up was a legitimate Uber driver who spoke Spanish but had a limited knowledge of English, according to police. She also wasn’t the Uber driver who was originally dispatched to pick up Hurley.
Nor is there is any evidence to support Hurley’s allegation that the Uber driver was a sex traffic worker or that sex traffickers were targeting ridershare customers at Tampa International, police said.
"The language barrier, and the fact that the woman got into the wrong car, led to confusion," police said in a statement. "Unfortunately, that also led to inaccurate conclusions that were then posted on social media."
Hurley did not respond Wednesday to a Facebook message requesting comment from the Tampa Bay Times.
Tampa police, however, emphasized the note of caution at the end of Hurley’s post: "Always, always check your Uber."
Here are some tips police offered to make sure rideshare users get into the right vehicle:
• The app tells you the license plate number and the model of car, so you can easily spot the correct car.
• The app provides the name of the driver and their photo. Make sure your driver matches that information.
• The app provides the driver with your name. Before you enter the car, ask the driver who they’re supposed to pick up.
• Sit in the back seat, so you can make a quick exit if you need to.
Contact Tony Marrero at [email protected] or (813) 494-8148. Follow @tmarrerotimes.