An Uber driver stole a blind singer’s phone at the end of a trip to give himself a five-star rating and a £20 tip, a court has heard.
Cornel Mihai was driving Victoria Oruwari from London Bridge station to her home in East Croydon in June of last year.
At the end of the journey, the driver asked Oruwari – who appeared on TV talent show All Together Now and has toured the world as a solo soprano – for her phone. He claimed it was to end the journey on the Uber app, but he ended up giving himself a five-star rating and applying a £20 tip, Croydon Magistrates Court heard.
Mihai has been convicted of fraud for the act, and upon the decision, Oruwari said: “It has reiterated the fact I am vulnerable and more susceptible to crime and being taken advantage of.”
She added: “To lead a full life I have to trust people. That has been shaken, but I am determined to continue trusting in people.”
Following the ruling, Mihai has been taken off Uber’s list of approved drivers, and a spokesperson for the company said: “This incident is unacceptable and we have refunded the customer. There is no place for this kind of behaviour on the Uber app.” He will be sentenced on February 4.
Talking to the court about the journey in question, Oruwari said that the driver sparked conversation relating to her sight loss. “I felt irritated because it was none of his business, but as I was in his car I thought it best to be polite. He said I was getting on with life well and was happy and I said, ‘Yes, there’s nothing to be sad about,'” she said.
“He told me he could not end the trip on his app and asked if I could give him my phone to end it. I thought it was a little odd, but there was nothing in his behaviour to make me think I wasn’t safe. I did not think anything fishy was going on, but I was handing him a lot of trust.”
Going on to discuss the moment where she found out what Mihai had done, she said: “I was shocked that I had been charged twice the fare, although I knew there would be a price surge, but also that the driver had been rated five-star and tipped £20.
“The only time I did not have the phone was when I gave it to him and had to switch off the screenreader so couldn’t hear what was happening.”