Only on 7: Metro's cameras uncover fraudulent claims
(WJLA) - On Minnesota Avenue SE last September 14, it looked like a horrible bus accident. People limping, others on the ground, gurneys moving patients strapped down onto a mass casualty bus.
Then we started looking for the impact, the broken glass and torn metal. And all we found was a black mark down the side of a Park Service trailer where it scraped the sideview mirror of the bus. The mirror wasn't even knocked off.
The seven cameras on the bus saw it all.
"The actual cabin of the bus wasn't moved at all. No one hit anything on the bus. No one loses their balance. There were several people standing," says Dan Stessel, Metro’s spokesperson. “What those cameras showed is that people appear to be faking their injuries."
The video shows when passengers become aware of the scrape, the Park Service trailer stops, the bus stops, and the show begins.
"We start seeing red flags when it's soft tissue injuries,” says Tom Reich of the National Insurance Crime Bureau. “There's no broken bones, there's not skin damage."
Reich says faking is widespread and it is hard to prove someone wasn't injured.
"But if you have video documentation, it's the best evidence you can have," he says.
And the claims of those injured bus riders when they learned they were on camera?
"I doubt that after word got out that anyone actually followed up on it,” Stessel says.
But when Maurice Owens followed up on a claim involving a Metro elevator, he was prosecuted. He had a court date last week.
Metro's camera saw no banana peel when Owens got on an elevator at Potomac Station, then he slipped on a banana peel as he left. Metro says he brought it with him to defraud.
When asked about it by ABC7, Owens refused to comment.
The cameras are making it hard to take a chance.
"If they see an opportunity to get a couple hundred, couple thousand dollars for little or no work, that's what they're going to do," Reich says.
Reich says many times insurance companies and self insurers like Metro determine it's cheaper for them to pay a small claim than contest it.
However with these cameras, they're showing the claimant the video and now asking , “Do you still want to sue?”