When a group of friends in New York City ordered an Uber in the summer of 2017, their driver knew the pick-up address and the destination. The man in question may not have anticipated quite what would happen during the journey, however. Indeed, one of his passengers would turn out to have had their eyes on what was rightfully his. When the woman acted on her greed, though, a camera ended up capturing it all.
On August 12, 2017, Mohammed H. Bhuiyan, a driver with Uber, picked up a fare in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City. His passengers that Saturday night were two young women and a fresh-faced man, and all three had dressed up before heading out and making the most of their weekend.
The friends had spent the hours leading up to their trip, meanwhile, out having fun and taking selfies. One of the young women had even posed for a picture in her underwear that she would go on to post on her Instagram account. Before the trio left to go out, though, the teenager had changed into something a little more appropriate for a public showing.
And when they entered the cab, the threesome squeezed onto the back seat of the car. They were seemingly unaware, however, that they were being filmed by a dash cam mounted on the rear-view mirror. Its footage reveals the trio to have been fairly subdued during their ride, chatting amiably amongst themselves. Bhuiyan is also captured on camera quietly driving the car with his eyes on the road ahead. However, the passenger in the middle of the back seat – the same young woman who had earlier posted the scantily-clad selfie – eventually begins to appear preoccupied.
And as the car drives along, the dark-haired teen is seen eyeing up a clear box placed between the front passenger seat and Bhuiyan. The box contained some banknotes; it served as Bhuiyan’s “tip jar.” For a few moments, in fact, the middle-seat passenger looks between the money in the box and the rear-view mirror. Presumably, she is checking to see if the driver is watching her. However, Bhuiyan likely has other things on his mind; they had reached the destination, after all, and so he brings the car to a halt.
Two of the back seat passengers then leave the Uber ride via their respective doors; the woman in the middle hesitates, though. Then it happens. Instead of simply exiting the vehicle, the passenger does something unthinkable: as she leans forward, she grabs Bhuiyan’s hard-earned money from the box. And as soon as she’s done so, the young woman darts out through the open passenger door after her friends.
At first, though, Bhuiyan is completely unaware of what has just occurred in his mobile workplace. Still, the driver must have sensed that something was not right, as he is seen in the camera footage glancing down at his now-empty tips container. Realizing that his gratuities seemed to have been taken by one of the threesome, Bhuiyan looks over his shoulder and toots his horn. By that point, however, the offender had made good her escape and is nowhere to be seen.
Later, Bhuiyan would report the theft of his hard-earned tips to his employers at Uber. In turn, they contacted the user who had booked the service; the woman responsible flat-out denied the accusation, however. Consequently, Uber management advised Bhuiyan to contact the police if he wanted to take the issue further.
However, Bhuiyan is a busy man and so was not sure that he could afford the time to get New York’s finest involved. Ultimately, in fact, the driver decided against reporting the offending passenger to the cops. But that did not mean that the individual who had committed the theft had got away scot-free. That’s because one public-minded citizen would upload the dash-cam footage of the robbery onto YouTube.
There, YouTube users could watch the events that had taken place for themselves, and the footage would eventually go on to clock up 1.5 million views. Subsequently, the woman was tried and convicted in the court of public opinion – and the verdict was harsh. Indeed, many people didn’t hold back in their condemnation of the culprit.
As the YouTube clip was shared and commented on, moreover, viewers began to link the alleged gratuity grabber to a New York-based Instagram and Twitter user. The girl in question was eventually outed as 18-year-old Gabrielle Canales from Long Island, and her social media pages would go on to command attention for all the wrong reasons.
Indeed, judgmental strangers would flock to Canales’ Instagram profile to condemn her. “Such an ugly, disgusting human being,” read one particularly vehement comment left on the page. It continued, “Nice job turning off the captions so you’d stop getting hate.” It appeared as if Canales had taken steps to try and stem the flow of outraged censure.
Alas, such efforts on the young woman’s behalf were to little avail. “The box troll stole the tips from the Uber driver,” wrote another angry social media user on Canales’ feed. Meanwhile, someone else commented, “Honestly, she probably just wanted her 15 minutes of fame, and she will be an ugly person for the rest of her life.”
And in the end, the controversy grew so large that Uber was forced to take action. Consequently, the transport provider banned Canales from using its online services. “What’s been shown has no place on our app, and the rider’s access to the app has been removed,” an Uber spokesman revealed in a statement obtained by Fox News.
That decision was welcomed by Canales’ many virtual haters, who were happy that a form of justice had prevailed. However, for some people this was just not enough. “This is right after you stole the money from that Uber driver. I hope you get jailed,” one person commented beneath a posed picture on Canales’ Instagram account.
So, with the online witch hunt against Canales showing no sign of letting up, the would-be model decided to speak out. Using Snapchat to defend herself over the incident, the young woman claimed mitigation over the small sum involved. Canales said that she had only taken $5 from Bhuiyan’s box of tips, for instance. Furthermore, she declared that she had since returned the sum to the Uber driver.
Later in November, Canales also opened up to Inside Edition about the backlash she had faced after taking Bhuiyan’s gratuities. There, the teen admitted that the whole experience had been toughest on her family. “I’m embarrassed for them because I really did embarrass everyone I know,” she revealed to the cameras.
In addition, Canales went on to say that she could fully understand why members of the online community were so angry. “I don’t blame them,” she told the Inside Edition team. “I did something wrong, and I know I did something wrong. I accepted that, and I apologized.”
And, in the end, Canales had come to the conclusion that the right thing to do was to say sorry to everyone she had upset, including Bhuiyan. Canales told the cameras, “I took a man’s hard-earned money, and I would be upset if someone did that to me. So I do apologize for that.”
What’s more, although Canales’ experience was not a pleasant one, it certainly taught her a valuable lesson. “Everything you do in life will have a consequence, no matter how old it is,” Canales later told BuzzFeed News. She added, “I hope people understand that this isn’t my character… it was just a bad choice I made. It was me being childish.”