Theft by Deception 18 Pa C.S. § 3922 – F3
Insurance Fraud 18 Pa C.S. § 4117 – F3
Philadelphia – Detectives from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit investigated James Whitfield after receiving a referral from Erie Insurance Company. On August 2, 2015, an Erie insured van struck the exterior mirror of a parked SEPTA bus in the vicinity of 23rd Street and Ridge Avenue in Philadelphia. Whitfield was a passenger on the SEPTA Route 61 bus and he alleged that he injured his right arm, right elbow and neck as a result of this accident. Whitfield retained an attorney to file a personal injury claim against SEPTA and Erie Insurance Company on his behalf and he also sought medical treatment for his alleged injuries.
Insurance Fraud Unit detectives retrieved the Erie claim file which included a statement from the driver of the van. The driver stated that he was attempting to pass the SEPTA bus when the passenger side mirror of his van struck the driver’s side mirror of the bus. The Erie insured driver stated that he stop and spoke with the bus driver and a SEPTA supervisor, but soon left because there was no damage to either vehicle. Insurance Fraud Unit detectives also spoke to the operator of the bus who stated that her bus was not damaged during this incident nor were any of her passengers injured. The operator also stated that the only damages that the van sustained were minor scratches and a dent on the right side mirror. Detectives then retrieved the surveillance footage from the Route 61 van which showed that other than looking towards the van, Whitfield had no other reaction to the accident. He did not hit his arm as he claimed, nor was he jolted in any way.
Whitman was arrested on August 23, 2016 for submitting a fraudulent injury claim to SEPTA. He was charged with Theft by Deception and Insurance Fraud and is next scheduled to appear in Philadelphia Municipal Court on October 4, 2016 for a status listing.