In what officially appears to be an ever-increasing problem for the City of Philadelphia,
yet another mass transit rider has found herself facing criminal charges relating to allegations that she attempted to defraud insurance companies due to alleged injuries she suffered during a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority(SEPTA) bus incident.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office announced this week that 46-year-old Sai Min Wang was recently arrested and charged with insurance fraud, attempted theft by deception, and theft by deception for filing a fraudulent insurance claim in connection with injuries she claimed to have sustained during an April 23, 2011, incident aboard a SEPTA bus.
Wang was riding the Route 42 bus during that spring day two years ago when she claims she hit her head on the seat in front of her and went on to suffer from headaches and blurred vision, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The bus at the time, which was stopped at a red light at 34th Street and Civic Center Boulevard, apparently made “minor contact” with a taxi cab traveling beside it; the cab’s door opened and scratched the side of the bus.
There were a mere seven passengers on the bus at the time, with nobody reporting any injuries, the prosecutor’s office stated.
No emergency workers were dispatched to the scene and detectives reported that the cab company had reported no claim for damages by the driver.
Nevertheless, Wang ended up retaining legal counsel who filed a personal injury claim on behalf of the woman weeks after the incident.
The attorney notified SEPTA officials that Wang had sustained injuries to her head and neck stemming from the incident, according to the D.A.’s Office.
Detectives working for the office of District Attorney Seth Williams soon executed a search and seizure warrant at the lawyer’s office and recovered the file for Wang’s personal injury claim, with the case file’s notes showing that the woman had told her lawyer she believed the bus had crashed into a taxi cab while she was sleeping aboard the bus, according to Williams’ office.
Wang further informed her attorney that she struck her head on an iron bar in the bus during the incident, and that she went on to suffer from headaches and sleeplessness as a result of her injuries.
In July 2011, Wang’s attorney filed a separate injury claim on behalf of Wang’s husband’s auto insurance company for costs relating to Wang’s medical bills, the D.A.’s Office announced in its May 17 news release.
The insurer ended up paying more than $2,800 for medical bills relating to the woman’s injury claim, records show.
It appears, however, that Wang was unable to elude the eye in the sky aboard most SEPTA vehicles.
Surveillance video from cameras mounted inside the SEPTA bus at the time showed that no passenger appeared to be injured or disturbed during the incident, the prosecutor’s office announced.
Furthermore, Wang, who had claimed she was asleep at the time, was caught on video speaking on her cellphone and facing forward at the time the bus made contact with the parked taxi cab.
“Wang never hits her head on a seat, pole or metal bar and continues her phone conversation for approximately three minutes,” the D.A.’s news release states. “The video evidence contradicts Wang’s account of the incident and her claims against both SEPTA and Progressive [Insurance].”
Wang was arrested by detectives from the District Attorney’s Office on May 15. She is expected to appear before a Philadelphia Municipal Court judge on May 24.
According to the D.A.’s Office, Wang’s attorney filed the personal injury claim in July 2011.
Court records at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, however, don’t appear to show any civil cases matching Wang’s claim.
Tasha Jamerson, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Seth Williams previously informed the Pennsylvania Record that the office does not give out the names of lawyers involved in the filing of fraudulent injury claims unless the lawyers themselves are subject to criminal allegations.
At this point, it doesn’t seem clear what attorney represented Wang in her civil case.
Jamerson could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.
Wang's arrest marks the latest in a recent string of arrests by the D.A.'s Office relating to fraudulent injury claims against SEPTA.
Last month, law enforcement officials arrested 10 people in connection with a case of alleged insurance fraud, while a total of four others were arrested and charged in January and February respectively.
Another six were arrested late last year.
In October 2011, the District Attorney's Office announced a push to spend more time and effort punishing those who attempt to defraud SEPTA, as previously reported by the Pennsylvania Record.