EXCLUSIVE: Woman seen coughing on Uber driver now accused of identity theft

ByMelanie Woodrow KGO logo
Thursday, April 28, 2022
EXCLUSIVE: Woman who coughed on Uber driver accused of ID theft
The woman in a viral March 2021 video seen coughing on an Uber driver is now accused of stealing a San Francisco nurse's identity.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The woman seen coughing on an Uber driver in a viral March 2021 video is in trouble again, this time accused of stealing a San Francisco nurse's identity.

This is a story that spans three cities on two coasts and centers around one very memorable suspect, Arna Kimiai.

Kimiai coughed on an Uber driver in March of 2021 and ripped off his mask. The incident was captured on video.

She's also the former neighbor of a San Francisco oncology nurse named Emily. Emily asked that we not use her last name after she filed a police report this month that she suspected Kimiai stole her identity.

"I noticed I was getting Chase inquiries. There was about 12 of them," said Emily.

"You know I knew I wasn't doing it," she continued.

Emily began digging, following up with the dozen or so luxury buildings and car dealerships she says had run her credit without her permission.

She says one of them gave her a cellphone number of a person had used for the application in her name. Emily looked up the number, which she says came back to Arna Kimiai, a name she didn't know at first.

When she Googled the name, it wasn't just the viral cough video that caught Emily's attention. It was that she recognized Kimiai as her former neighbor from when she lived in Los Angeles in September.

"To find out that that's the person that was targeting me was just crazy to me," said Emily.

Emily says the two never spoke beyond maybe a head nod in the hallway.

"This person is really using my identity and now I know who it is," said Emily.

Emily says Kimiai got a Miami penthouse apartment in her name and even set up an electric account with Florida Power and Light in her name as well.

She filed police reports with SFPD, Miami PD and the US Postal Inspection Service, detailing her claims.

ABC7 News shot video of Miami PD outside the building.

A spokesperson for Miami PD confirms their economic crimes unit has obtained an arrest warrant for Kimiai. The charges are grand theft, organized scheme to defraud and fraudulent use of personal information.

A spokesperson for the Miami building's management company said in an emailed statement in part, "We are aware of an incident ... where a resident allegedly used a fake identification to rent an apartment ... we are fully cooperating with the police in their investigation."

A spokesperson for Florida Power & Light said in an emailed statement in part, "While we cannot discuss a particular customer's account, we can say that FPL works with local and state law enforcement to investigate all cases of customer scams that are brought to our attention."

"I think it's really just horrible that someone can take a really easy way out, a get rich quick scheme and try to live in the lap of luxury on someone else's dime," said Emily.

Meantime, Kimiai's case for the Uber incident is ongoing. Her trial is scheduled for June.

ABC7 News reached out to her attorney, Seth Morris, regarding the new allegations. He said he is in communication with Kimiai and she is in the process of arranging for her surrender in Miami.