COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Police say the same man arrested for assault and domestic violence charges, offered women near the University of South Carolina's campus rides home, tried to hold them captive, and assaulted one of them.
That man is 28-year-old Farris Kaloti. His actions have angered some rideshare drivers, who are now speaking to WIS' Ashleigh Holland, on how riders can be safe and sure their drivers are legitimate.
One Uber driver who is well-known in the Columbia area and on USC's campus, 'Uber George,' says the sign on the vehicle surface is the first step—look for the Uber or Lyft logo on the windshield.
But he says it goes beyond that to be sure you're not risking your safety with a driver poser.
"Hi, it's your Uber. I'm going to be there in just a few minutes. I'm in a white Ford Edge…Ok. I'll be looking for you," Uber George's first step in his rideshare transaction is accepting the ride request on his Uber app.
He says his routine includes some safety steps.
"Hi. What's your name?" he always asks, to ensure he has the right person.
He's been driving for about two years and has given nearly 5,000 rides. He mostly gives rides in the Five Points area for college kids, partying on the weekends.
"My goal is to get these kids home safely every night," he says.
He says the riders should protect themselves when securing rides from rideshare services, by matching the driver's name, license tag, and route, with the details listed on the Uber app. You can also call the driver through the app.
'Uber George' says to never get in someone's car who says they're a driver without proof and so do police after 28-year-old Farris Kaloti allegedly offered rides home to women near campus, and tried to hold them captive, assaulting one.
"When we hear stories like we've heard of somebody who was out to do no good, it makes me mad," 'Uber George says.
Columbia Police add to these safety steps. They recommend people sit in the car's backseat, for better escape access if an emergency calls for it.