CFO Jeff Atwater Announces Arrests of Three Miami PIP Fraudsters
Contact: Chris Cate
TALLAHASSEE – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced the arrests of three individuals in unrelated but similar PIP fraud investigations in Miami. Chiropractor David Louis Hirschenson, 55, was arrested for illegally soliciting accident victims and obtaining vehicle crash reports. Nester Sanchez, 39, and Chakira Vila Puentes, 45, owners of C & N Therapy Center, were arrested for insurance fraud and grand theft.
“PIP fraud schemes drive up auto insurance rates for all Floridians, so we must do everything we can to put a stop to them," said CFO Atwater. "I applaud our investigators for their diligence in bringing these fraudsters to justice.”
An investigation by the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud revealed that Hirschenson used unauthorized media credentials to obtain crash reports illegally and use them to solicit accident victims. Hirschenson was charged with 19 counts of obtaining illegal crash reports and one count of solicitation.
In a separate investigation, detectives determined that husband and wife Nester Sanchez and Chakira Vila Puentes operated an unlicensed accident clinic named C& N Therapy Center located in Miami. The couple hired a massage therapist to act as a straw owner of the clinic, which allowed them to bill more than $353,000 in fraudulent PIP claims. The clinic was paid more than $212,000 for these billings.
Hirschenson, Sanchez and Puentes were booked into the Miami-Dade County Jail. If convicted on all counts, they face up to 215 years in prison collectively.
Anyone with information of suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $342,000 to more than 50 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government; reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses and providing transparency and accountability in state spending.