According to News 3, a Virginia Beach Uber driver’s phone call recently led to the arrest of two people accused of sex trafficking a minor. Now, Uber is looking to step up its game when it comes to identifying human sex trafficking victims.
Law enforcement officials were called out to Linkhorn Circle in Virginia Beach after court documents revealed an Uber driver noted something seeming off with the young female passenger in his car. The report resulted in the arrest of Omel Mclean and a woman from New York City. The minor had traveled from New York City to Virginia with the woman.
In an interview with the news station, Uber discussed the new program it has implemented to make drivers safer and hold criminals accountable. The new program requires someone to show identification if they want to make an anonymous payment, like with a gift card or prepaid credit card. This will make drivers safer and hold criminals responsible if police need their information.
Uber also works with national human sex trafficking advocates to provide drivers with information about what suspicious signs to look out for. In January and July, the company provides drivers with a video to educate them on human trafficking. The information is also available on Uber’s website at all times.
According to Brittany Anthony, an Uber representative and the Director of Global Woman’s Safety Policy, “They’re interacting with potentially vulnerable members of our community, and so that’s why it’s really critical to get them education on what to look out for and how trafficking operates and what to do when and if they see something wrong.”
Olivia Reposa, a trafficking survivor turned advocate, is pleased with the steps Uber is taking. She was trafficked for three years, starting at the age of 18: “After a few months with me falling in love with him and caring for him, it turned into a trafficking situation. He said, ‘If you love me, you will sell yourself to get us money to be able to survive.’ It turned into abuse, verbal and physical abuse.” Now, Reposa works for Survivor Ventures, a local nonprofit that helps human sex trafficking victims.