JONESBORO — Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson, State Insurance Safety and Fire Commissioner Jim Beck, and Fraud Investigations Unit Director Billy Sullivan say they are looking for any victims of an insurance fraud scheme that targeted seniors — and the state is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator or perpetrators.
At a press conference held at the Clayton County Courthouse Friday, Lawson announced the Feb. 28 arrest of licensed insurance agent Fereadoon “Frank” Kalantari of Jonesboro, who at press time is charged with at least three counts of insurance fraud, two counts of elder exploitation, two counts of identity fraud and eight counts of first-degree forgery.
Investigators allege that Kalantari sold annuities to his victims, then “churned” the accounts by closing and reopening new ones, generating commissions for himself and creating tax liabilities for the victims before the annuity terms had expired.
“We received a complaint from a retired individual regarding annuities that he had purchased from Mr. Kalantari and his business,” Sullivan said. “He purchased annuities, which is an investment giving a series of annual returns or sums. Mr. Kalantari received a monetary commission for every annuity that was purchased through his company. Our investigation revealed that he misrepresented information to the insurance companies and investors. As a result, he was able to sell more annuities and therefore increase his income. Based upon that information, arrest warrants were obtained for insurance fraud, forgery in the first degree, identity fraud and elder abuse.”
According to the state warrant filed in Clayton County, on Feb. 6, Kalantari allegedly misrepresented paperwork for an account with Equitrust Life and American Equity Life.
In addition, Sullivan said, “At the time that the arrest warrants were executed, a search warrant of his home was also executed. During the course of the search, investigators located thousands of documents related to the suspected fraud. Additionally, investigators found suspected cocaine, black tar heroin and other suspected schedule narcotics.”
Beck explained that the state Insurance Commissioner’s Office “prepare[s] cases for presentation to local district attorneys and local prosecutors, who do the important work of getting the convictions that we think the evidence points to.” Beck said 10 to 12 cents of every dollar people pay for insurance “goes to fraud.”
Lawson thanked Henry County Police Chief Mark Amerman for his work in the drug bust. “The operation was originated by the Georgia Office of Safety and Fire Commissioner, led by Commissioner Jim Beck. His office coordinated with my office, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Department led by Sheriff [Victor] Hill, and the Henry County Police Department led by Chief Mark Amerman. I would like to thank all those individuals and their departments for assisting in this operation.”
Lawson said “We are exploring other co-defendants and other avenues of restitution,” adding that every penny recovered of the more than $100,000 seized thus far would go to victims of the alleged fraud, not to law enforcement or the DA’s Office.
The investigation included the Henry County Police Department, as well, because Kalantari’s property near Lake Spivey crosses county lines.
Clayton County’s search warrant was for evidence in the insurance fraud case. During the search, which Lawson said reaped paperwork related to the scheme, a second warrant out of Henry County was issued and cocaine, black tar heroin, and Schedule IV drugs also were seized. Both Kalantari and his wife, Afroz Motamad-Ardameh, were charged in Henry County with possession of the cocaine and heroin, as well as possession with intent to distribute unspecified Schedule IV drugs.
Kalantari and Ardameh’s Facebook pages say they were born in Tehran, Iran, and show them enjoying trips to exotic destinations, deep-sea fishing, yachting and relaxing in the mountains.
Clayton County Magistrate Court records show that, in 2014, Kalantari and Ardameh were co-defendants in a family violence case. Both were charged with and pleaded nolle prosse to battery-family violence 1, simple battery-family violence, simple battery, and battery. A certificate of indigency was filed as part of that case.
Beck said that he has “a very personal reason” for fighting insurance fraud, as his grandmother was the victim of a dirty life insurance agent. “What I saw in her at age 77 was that not only did he rob her of what little life savings she had accumulated running her grocery store, he also robbed her of her dignity and her peace of mind.”
“We are asking for the public to please contact the Georgia Insurance Commission if they believe, as we do, there are more victims of this insurance fraud by Mr. Kalentari,” Lawson urged.
Anyone who thinks they may have been defrauded by Kalantari’s company, Professional and Commercial Insurance Agency Inc., is urged to contact the State Insurance Commissioner’s Fraud Hotline directly at 404-232-1212 and Special Agent Bill Weston of the Fraud Investigations Unit at 404-656-2070.