I-Team Exclusive: Uber driver removed from platform after failed background check

ABC7 I-Team Exclusive

Jason Knowles Image
Friday, June 26, 2015
Uber driver removed after failed background check
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The ABC7 I-Team found that one Illinois Uber driver with a history of trouble managed to slip through the cracks.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The ABC7 I-Team is reporting exclusively on an Uber driver who was removed from the platform after his criminal record was exposed. Uber's background checks failed to catch past crimes and traffic violations.

Uber says it approves 10,000 drivers a year, and hundreds of them get rejected after lengthy criminal and traffic background checks. But the I-Team found that one Illinois Uber driver with a history of trouble managed to slip through the cracks.

Spokespeople at Uber's Illinois offices in Chicago called it an oversight and are investigating how Adam R. Stevenson, 29, of Springfield, managed to be approved to drive an Uber X.

The I-Team received a tip about his failed background check after he was arrested a few weeks ago downstate, for allegedly exposing himself to a female passenger. Stevenson has not yet been charged in the recent incident, but he has been removed from the Uber platform.

The I-Team discovered that Stevenson has other violations which Uber says should have prevented him from ever being hired.

Sangamon County court records show:

-In 2011 he disregarded a traffic light.

-In June 2012, he faced a misdemeanor battery charge and was given supervision with 200 hours of public service.

-In July of 2012, his wife filed an emergency order of protection against him, which was eventually vacated.

-In June 2013, supervision was given for driving 15-20 miles per hour over the speed limit.

- And a judge ordered supervision again in August 2013 for possession of cannabis.

Stevenson does not have a public defender or an attorney on file, but his wife told the I-Team he was declining comment.

Uber managers also declined to go on camera but said: "This individual should not have had access to the platform. When we learned of his record, he was immediately deactivated. We've launched an investigation to get to the bottom of this and ensure this error doesn't happen again."

In February, Uber managers gave me an exclusive look behind the scenes to show their background check process. Information is run through an "Uber portal," which feeds to a centralized security team in North Carolina.

"I tend to think, 'Who would I feel comfortable with driving my wife and driving my son?' and I think of our background checks as providing that piece of mind," said Phillip Cardenas, Uber global security.

Background checks are required by state and city laws, however there is no direct oversight by municipalities.

Uber says it stretches back 7 years into potential drivers' records, running names through a multi-state database, then searching county and federal courthouse records.

Uber had also told the I-Team it strictly prohibits drivers from profile sharing after a man was found using his wife's app profile and her registered car as he drove.

In Chicago, reps from the cab industry and some aldermen are currently pushing for strict city oversight into ride-share driver background checks. Proponents say they want Uber and Lyft drivers to be vetted like cab and limo drivers.

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