Cambridge Police debunk viral text message citing 'human trafficking plot'

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Cambridge Police have issued a warning concerning a recent message citing a human trafficking plot involving rideshare drivers in the city.

The message, which has gone viral since the alleged kidnapping of a 23-year-old woman in Boston last Saturday, claims the case is connected to a human trafficking plot conducted by several Uber drivers.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, authorities said they have "no knowledge" of the information in the text message or of the alleged investigation into the claim. Cambridge Police said the information in the text message "does not appear to have any validity" and if anyone has any questions regarding public safety matters, they should contact the department directly.

According to the message, Uber drivers will offer the female rider candy or a bottle of water containing some sort of drug and then "pass them off to other people involved."

The text message goes on to say police have warned women not to take Ubers alone or at night if possible.

Along with debunking the viral text message, Cambridge Police issued some helpful tips for anyone taking rideshare services alone:

1. If possible, request your ride inside and wait indoors until your driver arrives.
2. Check the license plate, driver photo, and driver name to make sure it matches the app before getting in the car.
3. Ask the rideshare driver who they are picking up. Make the driver say your name first.
4. Don't take a different ride than the one you selected in the app – even if the driver offers a lower rate.
5. If you're riding alone, sit in the backseat. You and your driver will have more personal space, and you have an exit if necessary.
6. Share your trip details with family or a friend by tapping "Share status." They can track your route to make sure you arrive safely.
7. Don't share your personal contact information with your rideshare driver. All communication should be through the app.
8. If you feel unsafe, trust your gut and call 911.

Additionally, if you feel unsafe but don't want to raise any red flags, you can now text 911.

If you chose to take public transportation by yourself, make sure to alert someone you trust who lives in the area of your route and predicted ETA. Apps such as Find My Family, which is available for iOS and Android, allows you to share your location with friends or family and alert them when you arrive at your destination.

We want the community to be aware that several residents over the last 12+ hours have shared images of a text message...

Posted by Cambridge Police Department on Thursday, January 24, 2019