An Uber driver from Howard Beach faces federal kidnapping and wire fraud charges for allegedly taking a passenger on an unwanted trip to New England after she started falling asleep in his car, prosecutors announced on Tuesday.
According to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Harmir Parmar, 24, allegedly kidnapped the woman in February after she ordered a ride from Manhattan to her home in White Plains. When she started to fall asleep he changed her location on the Uber app to a location in Massachusetts.
When the victim awoke in the wrong state, authorities said, Parmar allegedly tried to lift up her shirt and touched her breast. When she fought back and tried to retrieve her phone to call for help, prosecutors noted, he allegedly got back behind the wheel, drove to a location in Connecticut and left her in the middle of Interstate 95, according to the criminal complaint.
To add insult to injury, federal agents said, the victim was later charged $1,047.55 for the trip to Massachusetts. On or around Feb. 24, authorities said, the driver further charged her for allegedly puking in his car; she fought against his claims and reported the incident. On March 16, the driver continued to accuse her of messing up the car and even sent photos of vomit to Uber.
“As alleged, Harbir Parmar was hired to transport a woman from Manhattan to her home in White Plains. Instead, Parmar kidnapped, terrorized and assaulted the woman before dumping her on the side of an interstate. No one – man or woman – should fear such an attack when they simply hire a car service,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.
The victim remembered the livery license plate and walked over to a nearby convenience store where she called a cab to go home, and at some point wrote down the information about Parmar’s car. NYPD Detective/FBI Task Officer James Menton later used this information to identify the driver, according to the complaint.
With information from the National Crime Information Center Database that identified the license plate, records from Uber, cell site data of the suspect and the woman and an interview with the taxi company that she used to get home, Menton was able to establish a minute-by-minute timeline of the victim’s ordeal.
Parmar was interviewed about the incident on July 25 by law enforcement officers and it is alleged that he understood the victim wanted to go to White Plains, NY, he knew she didn’t want to go to Massachusetts and knew that she did not vomit in his car, according to a criminal complaint.
The incident led to a further investigation of Parmar, which uncovered that he has changed the location of passengers’ rides on at least 11 occasions and charged them cleaning fees on at least three times from December 2016 to February 2018, according to the complaint. Overall, passengers are owed over $3,600.
A warrant was issued on for Parmar’s arrest on Oct. 12 and he was arrested three days later, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
After the news of his arrest on Oct. 15, the city’s Taxi & Limousine Commission suspended his license the same day, according to a spokeswoman of TLC.
Anyone who believes they were a victim of Parmar’s alleged scam should contact the FBI’s Westchester Residency Agency at 914-925-3888.