PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Security cameras catch a Philadelphia man staging his own accident so he can sue the region's transit authority.
Bogus personal injury claims have for years, cost SEPTA tens of millions of dollars money that ultimately comes out of your pocket. Now the 24,000 surveillance cameras are turning the tide and saving SEPTA and you big bucks.
FOX 29's Bruce Gordon spoke to the man in the video.
Osvaldo Reyes-Santiago's lawsuit against SEPTA claimed he'd been sitting on a stackable chair in the lobby of the transit authority's Market Street headquarters, when the defective chair back broke or separated causing him to "suddenly and violently fall."
SEPTA's legal team checked a ceiling security camera.
General counsel Gino Benedetti said, "Our first reaction was that he fabricated the incident."
The footage appears to show Reyes-Santiago deliberately throwing himself backward, tipping the chair and falling to the floor.
"We didn't see any signs of any defect or problem with the chair. We saw someone trying to stage an accident," Benedetti sad.
Just a few floors above that "accident" scene, SEPTA runs a massive monitoring operation-- every time an accident claim is made, they can pull the appropriate video and see whether the alleged victim is telling the truth. Over the past five years, those cameras have helped reduce personal injury lawsuits against SEPTA by nearly three-quarters. Payouts over the past five years have dropped by 54-million dollars when compared to the previous five years.
Faced with the video evidence, Reyes-Santiago dropped his civil suit and he has now been charged with attempted theft by deception and insurance fraud.
Reyes-Santiago now lives in a Philly apartment, but he told FOX 29's Bruce Gordon that he was homeless at the time he tried to scam SEPTA into writing him a check.
"I just wanted to get out of the shelter,” he told Gordon from the doorway of his apartment. “I wanted to buy a place to live. And I saw the opportunity and I did it. But I confess that I did wrong."