Fire Claim for Fine Arts Falls Short on Arson ChargesInsurance Fraud, s — By Trace America on May 10, 2012 at 3:09 PM
The California Department of Insurance issued a news release on May 10thannouncing the arrests of Max Astan, 61, and Maryann Khosravizadeh, 45, for multiple felonies related to an arson fire that destroyed some property which was owned by Astan. Astan’s bail has been set at $1,000,000, while his alleged accomplice had bail set at $325,000.
“The lengths that these suspects took to defraud insurers are deplorable,” said Commissioner Jones. “I commend the Detectives of my Department and the investigators of the insurance company for bringing these alleged conspirators to justice.”
According to insurancenewsnet.comand detectives from the California Department of Insurance (CDI) Fraud Division, on April 29, 2009, Astan’s insurer submitted a suspected fraudulent claim that he had filed with CDI. The claim was for the loss of personal property from the arson fire on June 20, 2008 at his residential rental property in Granada Hills.
The Los Angeles City Fire Department’s investigation classified the fire as suspicious and later determined it to be arson. Astan claimed he furnished his rental property with artwork, collectibles, Persian rugs and fine paintings. Due to the high value of the $260,000 claim, the fire being ruled as arson, and the fact that the property was claimed to be a rental property inhabited by a tenant, the insurer investigated this claim as suspicious. The rental property had House Hold Furnishings coverage for $300,000, and the replacement value of the structure was estimated by the insurer to be $937,822.
According to Astan, many personal items were destroyed including four paintings, two 17th century and two 18thcentury oil paintings. Astan reported that the combined value of these four paintings was $147,500. The paintings soon became the focus of the insurer’s investigation, because back in September of 2008 the insurer discovered that the paintings were incorrectly named and in the possession of two different art galleries at the time of the fire, two at the Los Angeles Fine Arts Gallery and the other two at the Asdourian Gallery in Corona del Mar.
On September 25, 2008, the insurer covertly purchased two of the paintings from the Los Angeles Fine Arts Gallery. The investigation showed that Astan never owned or was in possession of any of the four paintings in question but merely photographed them while they were on display for sale at an art gallery 20 miles from his home.
On February 19, 2010, Astan’s claim was denied, due to Astan’s material misrepresentations and the fact that he filed a fraudulent claim to obtain benefits he was not entitled to.
CDI’s investigation revealed that Astan obtained a new insurance policy from the same insurer on January 9, 2008 that included a $300,000 liability for personal property while he still had a separate insurance policy in force until March 2008. His previous policy had personal property coverage limited to $70,000; however, his policy was for an owner occupied property only, therefore he obtained a new policy.
In February of 2008, Astan rented his home to Khosravizadeh, who is a licensed real estate agent. She also obtained a renter’s insurance policy in the amount of $300,000 for personal property loss. After the fire, both Khosravizadeh and Astan filed corresponding insurance claims, with Khosravizadeh receiving $239,100 for the loss of her personal property and Aston attempting to file his $260,000 claim. All of their personal property was alleged to be inside the home when it was destroyed.
The total potential loss from both insurance claims was over $1,400,000.
On March 1, 2011, CDI Detectives served a search warrant at Astan’s residence where a quantity of Opium was seized, along with other items of evidence. Almost a year later, on May 3, 2012, the Los Angeles County Superior Court issued an arrest warrant for Astan for knowingly presenting a fraudulent claim, knowingly assisting and conspiring to present written/oral statement in support of a fraudulent claim, intimidation of a witness, terrorist threats, and for possessing or purchasing for sale of a controlled substance.
On that same date, May 3rd, the Los Angeles County Superior Court issued an arrest warrant for Khosravizadeh for arson, conspiracy, and knowingly assisting and conspiring to present written/oral statement in support of a fraudulent claim.
On May 4, 2012, Astan was arrested at his residence and booked into the Los Angeles County Jail.
On May 8, 2012, Khosravizadeh was arrested at her residence and booked into the Los Angeles County Jail.
This post is authored by Trace America.