Mark Malatesta
Mark Malatesta. Photo: California Department of Insurance

A 55-year-old San Clemente man was arrested Monday on suspicion of 16 felony counts of fraud related to a scheme targeting victims described as elderly.

Mark Malatesta, a licensed insurance agent at the time of the alleged crimes, “allegedly exploited at least six elderly consumers by falsifying information on annuity applications and netted more than $135,000 in illegal commissions,” according to a statement from the California Department of Insurance.

Malatesta is facing 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, officials said.

Malatesta is suspected of persuading people to terminate their investments, costing them a total of $45,000 in penalties and then selling them new annuities that were not legally available to them because of their advanced age. The investments were eventually canceled by insurers once false information allegedly provided by Malatesta was discovered, officials said.

“Increasingly we are uncovering financial scams that target seniors,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “These crimes are reprehensible and we will continue to work with our district attorney partners to aggressively investigate and prosecute anyone who targets seniors.”

–City News Service

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