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Thousands of criminals were cleared to be Uber drivers. Here's how rideshare companies fought stronger checks

For anyone looking, it wouldn't have been too hard to uncover Talal Chammout's sordid past.

A simple internet search would have turned up news accounts of his criminal history, such as his assault conviction or the time a federal judge sentenced him to 6½ years in prison for being a felon in possession of firearms.

The judge in that case ticked off a string of allegations against Chammout at his sentencing: He had been accused of shooting a juvenile in the leg, seeking to smuggle rocket launchers into the Middle East, attacking his wife with a crowbar and plotting to hire a hit man.

Three years after he was released from prison, Chammout wanted to be an Uber driver. The company did not run a background check on him and he was allowed to drive in 2015. Three months later, he followed one of his passengers into her home and sexually assaulted her. He is now serving a 25-year prison sentence.
It wasn't the only time Uber welcomed a driver who should have been barred under the company's policy that excludes people with convictions of serious crimes or major driving offenses from shuttling passengers, a CNN investigation into rideshare background checks found.

Among the shady drivers who cleared Uber's screening process: A man convicted of attempted murder who is now accused of raping a passenger in Kansas City; a murderer on parole in Brazos County, Texas; a previously deported undocumented immigrant who is now facing trial for sexually assaulting three passengers and attacking another in San Luis Obispo, California. They no longer drive for Uber.

Talal Chammout was a convicted felon when he became an Uber driver. He is now serving a 25-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting his passenger.

Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft have approved thousands of people who should have been disqualified because of criminal records, according to state agencies and lawsuits examined by CNN.

In statements to CNN, Uber and Lyft said their background checks are robust and fair. Uber acknowledged past mistakes in its screening process, but said, "More than 200,000 people failed our background check process in 2017 alone. While no background check is perfect, this is a process we take seriously and are committed to constantly improving."
 
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