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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.

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