(CBS) — Complaints about fake rideshare drivers victimizing customers are on the rise.
When a man posing as an Uber driver allegedly abducted a woman in Las Vegas, she made a brave escape from a moving car.
Elizabeth Suarez’ traumatic experience began on a mid-July night. She booked an Uber to take her home after a night out with a childhood friend.
“So I get the notification from my phone saying that the Uber is arriving soon so head out to the valet,” she said.
She saw a car matching the description on the app.
“And he gestures over to me, I open the car door and I say ‘hi, are you here for Liz?” And he says, ‘yeah, get in,’” she said.
She didn’t realize he wasn’t her ride until they were on the road and she got a call from the real Uber driver who was looking for her.
“My heart sank. Because I knew I was in the wrong car, I have no idea who this guy is, I’m in trouble,” she said.
Frightened and not wanting to spook the man behind the wheel, she tells the real Uber driver all is well and hangs up then tries to get her driver to let her out.
“I’m just thinking airport, just a lit area, even a gas station. I don’t care. I just said, ‘sir, anywhere is fine, you can just drop me off here.’ Ignores me and keeps driving,” she said.
She posted on her Snapchat story, hoping to silently alert friends she was in trouble.
Afraid of what the driver might do if he heard her on her phone, she did not call police.
“I’m just trying to stay calm, trying to stay calm, make my next move,” she said.
After he pulled into a shopping center, Liz took a side profile picture of him.
“My flash goes off, startles him and that’s when he starts cursing, ‘Give me your wallet! Give me your phone! Give me everything you have!’” she said.
She threw her wallet at him but kept her phone. Instead of letting her out, he sped up.
“And that’s when I open the car door and it’s unlocked and I just jump out without thinking,” she said.
She suffered a head injury, a fractured wrist and a badly broken ankle.
A crime and safety expert said her brave act of desperation may have saved her life, but there are two things she should have done differently.
She should have called 911, even if operators were just listening to a one-sided conversation, they’d likely have been able to figure out there was a crime in progress.
The expert said she also should have raised a red flag when the real Uber driver called so he could’ve potentially alerted police.
But Suarez says police weren’t helpful at first, asking questions about her instead of the driver.
“’Why was I out so late? Why was I alone?’ I had to hire my attorney because I was afraid they were going to drop my case,” she said.
Attorney Neal Hyman sent a written request for further investigation.
“They changed some detectives on the case and are starting to take it more seriously. But in any type of law enforcement investigation, timing is crucial,” he said.
They also note multiple errors in the police narrative.
“He never said, ‘I am not your Uber, get out, leave your purse,’” Suarez said.
Her biggest concern is that the robbery is the only crime listed in the report. There’s no mention anywhere of kidnapping.
“Once he did rob me he continued to drive away with me. I only got out because I jumped out,” she said.
The crime remains unsolved while Suarez endures a lengthy recovery.
“I say that he broke some bones but he didn’t break my spirit. I’m here and I’m here to tell my story and I’m doing it to warn other girls,” she said.