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Police: Fake Uber driver tried to sexually assault Twin Cities woman

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A Woodbury woman on the way home from a night out in Minneapolis was the subject of an attempted sexual assault by a man posing as an Uber driver.

The attack happened just before 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, after the woman was picked up in Uptown and driven home to Woodbury.

She managed to fight off her attacker and escape to her house, with Woodbury police Cmdr. Steve Wills telling BringMeTheNews investigators are now searching for the suspect.

At this stage, it's not known how the attacker was able to pose as someone working for the ride-sharing service. Nobody had been arrested as of Tuesday morning.

"We are still trying to figure it out," Cmdr. Wills said, "but based on the information we have in the investigation so far, we do not believe this driver was an Uber driver. We're still trying to figure out how they came into contact with the victim."

Few details of the suspect are being released at this stage, the Star Tribune reports, so as not to compromise the investigation.

An Uber spokeswoman told the newspaper that drivers soliciting customers for rides is not allowed, commenting: "We do not allow street pickups. Everything is done through the app." Uber says doing so can actually lead to a deactivation punishment for drivers.

According to RT.com, Uber admitted it had received 175 complaints of sexual assault, including five accusations of rape, across its worldwide network between December 2012 and August 2015. The company said that this number represents 1 out of every 3.3 million trips taken.

Being safe while taking an Uber

Uber has a page of advice for riders on how to be safe when taking an Uber journey.

It notes that when you're matched with a driver through the app, you will see their name, license plate number, photo and rating so you know who's picking you up.

It also advises you share your ETA with friends and family so they know when to expect you.

Fellow ride-sharing company Lyft says all its drivers are subjected to DMV and third-party background checks before being hired.

In the event of an incident that threatens a rider's personal safety, it urges them to call 911 or the non-emergency police number, and then call Lyft's critical response line on 855-865-9553. Uber also has a specially-trained rapid response team.

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