Fake Ride-Share Driver Raped Woman He Picked Up at Airport: Police

A 28-year-old man was arrested in Florida for allegedly raping a woman he had picked up from Miami International Airport last month while pretending to be ride-share driver, according to local authorities.

The man, identified as Fernando Avila Hernandez, of Miami, was arrested on Wednesday and made his first appearance in court for a bond hearing on Thursday, according to a spokesperson for Broward County State Attorney's Office, as reported by NBC Miami on Thursday.

Hernandez is being held at Broward County Jail on one count of touch or strike battery and two counts of sexual battery on a victim 18 years or older, according to an arrest affidavit mentioned by NBC. Florida laws include rape under sexual battery.

The affidavit said that the victim, a 28-year-old woman originally from Colombia, had just arrived at Miami airport from Salt Lake City and was trying to get into a taxi when she was approached by Hernandez, who was posing as an Uber driver, as reported by NBC.

Fernando Avila Hernandez mugshot
Suspect Fernando Avila Hernandez. The 28-year-old was arrested after he allegedly raped a woman he had picked up from Miami International Airport last month while pretending to be ride-share driver. Broward County Jail

The woman then sat at the back of Hernandez' SUV and told him her destination was a hotel in Miramar, according to the affidavit.

Hernandez then asked the woman to sit next to him in the front seat, claiming he needed help with directions.

"She stated she did not think anything of it because since Uber is not officially allowed in Colombia, Uber drivers sit their passengers in the front so as to not alert authorities," reads the affidavit.

At that point, Hernandez told the woman that she was pretty and asked if she wanted to go to his place, an offer which she refused, asking to be taken to her hotel.

When they were approaching the hotel, the affidavit reports, Hernandez told the woman that he didn't take card payments, and added that she could pay "in another way," NBC reports.

Hernandez then offered to pay the woman $500 for sex, but according to the affidavit she replied that she was not a sex worker. Hernandez then asked her to pay $300 for the ride, and when she said she didn't have that much cash Hernandez drove past the hotel and on to a shopping plaza in the 3400 block of Red Road, where he parked behind a restaurant, the affidavit said.

Once parked, Hernandez ordered the woman to go to the back seat, where he then sexually battered her, according to the affidavit.

After sexually assaulting the woman, Hernandez dropped her off at an unspecified hotel and left. The woman reported the alleged assault to hotel staff, who contacted the police.

Hernandez was arrested as a suspect after police recognized him in surveillance footage from the airport.

Miami International Airport
Miami International Airport, where Fernando Avila Hernandez allegedly picked up a 28-year-old Colombian woman. His defense attorney said "the charges in this case are highly disputed by us."

In court on Thursday was Hernandez' lawyer, his wife of ten years and his brother-in-law, according to CBS.

Hernandez' defense attorney Bijan Sebastian Parwaresch said "the charges in this case are highly disputed by us." Parwaresch told NBC that Hernandez is innocent. "We're highly objecting to the notion of an unconsensual sexual encounter," he said.

Bond on Hernandez' charges total $135,000, NBC reports. If the suspect were to post bail, the judge has ordered that he is not allowed to have any contact with the victim and will be assigned a GPS monitoring device.

Uber told NBC that Hernandez used to be a ride-share driver for the company but added that he has not worked for them since 2021.