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Jacksonville PIP Scheme Responsible for $45,000 in Financial Loss


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) today announced the recent arrests of Christian Ponce, Nelson Vargas Mercado, Luz Rosario-Escudero and a Jacksonville Blue Cross Blue Shield employee, Janelle Denise Lundy, for their alleged involvement in a personal injury protection (PIP) scheme that defrauded numerous insurance companies for a combined total of at least $45,000. Two participants, Damaris Garcia Sanchez and Jacqueline Santiago, still remain at large.

DIF’s investigation revealed that Christian Ponce allegedly organized and directed a staged accident that occurred August 12, 2012 in which Janelle Lundy was the driver of the at-fault vehicle.
Following the accident, the participants submitted multiple claims to various insurance companies for fictitious injuries in an effort to profit from the insurance payouts. In total, $45,443 was paid out by the involved insurance companies to compensate for the rehabilitative services of the phony injuries.
The second vehicle involved in the crash was occupied by four additional participants, Jacqueline Santiago, Nelson Vargas Mercado, Luz Rosario-Escudero, and Damaris Garcia Sanchez who knowingly participated in the scheme.

Lundy, Ponce, Mercado, and Escudero were arrested June 6, 2016 and have been charged with insurance fraud and knowingly participating in a staged accident.

If anyone feels they have information that could assist in the apprehension of Damaris Garcia Sanchez and Jacqueline Santiago, please contact DIF’s fraud tip hotline by calling 1-800-378-0445.
Callers can choose to remain anonymous, and if they provide information that leads to a conviction, they may be eligible for a cash reward through our Anti-Fraud Reward Program.

This case will be prosecuted by the Office of Assistant State Attorney Joe Licandro of the 4th Judicial Circuit. If convicted, each participant faces up to 30 years in prison.

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 spending. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).