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Charges: Man posing as ride-hailing driver kidnapped women in Austin

AUSTIN, Texas — A former driver for a ride-hailing company Lyft faces several criminal charges after police say he sped off twice with a passenger in his vehicle against their will. Records show 45-year-old Daniel Kifle was booked into the Travis County Jail on Tuesday, charged with kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping and attempted sexual assault.

Austin police say the driver picked up passengers from bars on two occasions who apparently believed he was their Lyft driver. Then when the front-seat passenger got out to help their passed-out friend exit the back seat, police say the man drove away with the unconscious passenger still in the car.

Police say one of the passed-out passengers awakened and found the driver trying to force his hands down her pants.

Ride-hailing company Lyft reported the rides did not happen on the company's platform and said Kifle has been "permanently deactivated."

According to arrest affidavits obtained by the Austin American Statesman, the women thought he was their ride-hailing app driver, the paper reports.

Both incidents were reported to police and witnesses reportedly identified Kifle in a photo lineup. Lakeway police told Austin police they suspect Kifle in a similar incident, the paper reports.

"The situations being described are truly frightening," Lyft said in a statement released to the paper. "Our thoughts are with the victims of these senseless acts. These rides did not happen on the Lyft platform, but we have been assisting law enforcement with their investigation and will continue to do so moving forward."

Lyft, which performs annual background checks, couldn't provide Kifle's employment history to the paper on Tuesday. His bail has reportedly been set at $500,000.

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