An ex-insurance agent from San Clemente has been accused of using fraudulent practices to profit off of investments he made for at least six elderly clients in Southern California.
55-year-old Mark Malatesta, a man employed as a licensed insurance agent, was taken into custody on Monday after the California Department of Insurance detectives found what they believe is supporting evidence that he was taking part in a monetary ruse which cost his former clients over $1.6 million. The alleged victims were reported as senior citizens, who are said to be a target demographic of an increasing number of deceptions designed to cheat them out of their money, as reported by Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.
Malatesta has been accused of a procedure called “churning,” wherein a broker who typically has permission to make independent determinations on how to invest money from the client’s account performs transactions “chiefly to generate commissions that benefit the broker,” as described by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The charges against Malatesta derived from an investigation that showed he allegedly extorted commissions in an amount over $135,000 by persuading clients to discontinue investments which penalized them with $45,000 in fees. He then purportedly convinced them to put their money into annuities for which they were unqualified due to their ages. Malatesta is said to have applied for the investments with fictitious information on the applications. When the insurers identified the falsifications the policies were canceled and $1,616,897, the amount of the deposits, was returned to the alleged victims.
Malatesta has been charged with 16 felony counts consisting of seven counts of insurance fraud, six counts of residential burglary, two counts of financial elder abuse, and one count of grand theft with enhancements for white collar crime and the excessive taking of over $1.3 million.
In addition to his arrest and the charges he is facing Malatesta also had his insurance license suspended by the Department of Insurance who stated that they would follow through with actions to have it revoked if he is convicted.
If you or someone you love is suspected of a theft crime, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.