Indian-origin ride-sharing driver pleads guilty to kidnapping passenger

Logo of the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. (Photo: website of U.S. Attorney for SDNY)

A ride-sharing driver of Indian origin in New York pleaded guilty to kidnapping and wire fraud March 11.

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that Harbir Parmar,  pled guilty March 11, in White Plains federal court. The 25-year old resident of Howard Beach, New York, pled guilty to one count of kidnapping, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Parmar, who was arrested on October 16, 2018, and pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Vincent L. Briccetti, is scheduled to be sentenced by the same judge on June 24.

“Last year, Harbir Parmar took advantage of a vulnerable woman who utilized a ridesharing service by kidnapping and terrorizing her.  In addition, he charged many of his ridesharing customers with fraudulent fees.  Today, he admitted his guilt in open court, and will now be held accountable for his brazen crimes,” Berman is quoted saying in a press release from his office.

According to the Indictment and statements made during Parmar’s plea proceedings on March 11, on February 21, 2018, Parmar, who worked as a driver for a ridesharing company picked up a female passenger in Manhattan, New York. She wanted to be driven to White Plains, New York.  After she fell asleep in the backseat of the vehicle, Parmar changed her destination on his company’s mobile application to an address in Boston, Massachusetts, and proceeded to drive toward that location.

When the passenger woke up, the vehicle was in Connecticut.  She requested that she be taken to White Plains or to the police station, but Parmar refused.  Instead he dropped her off on the side of I-95 in Branford, Connecticut.  The victim went to a nearby convenience store where she sought help.

In addition, from December 2016 through February 2018, Parmar is accused of sending false information about the destinations of the ride-share company’s customers through its mobile application on several occasions, investigators found.  At times, he also sent false information about the application of a cleaning fee to be applied to the accounts of the company’s customers.  Customers of that ride-sharing company filed complaints with the company about being overcharged for their rides.  These instances have resulted in “thousands of dollars” in improper charges to those customers, the press release said.



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