A federal jury convicted four California residents on June 25 for attempting to submit fraudulent loan applications targeting millions of dollars into the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) COVID-19 relief funds.
After an eight-day trial, Richard Ayvazyan, 42, his wife Marietta Terabelian, 37, and his brother Artur Ayvazyan, 41, all of Encino, were each convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, 11 counts. of electronic fraud, eight counts of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Richard Ayvazyan was also convicted of two counts of aggravated identity theft and Artur Ayvazyan was convicted of one count of aggravated identity theft. Vahe Dadyan, 41, from Glendale was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, six counts of wire fraud, three counts of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy with a view to committing money laundering and one count of money laundering. .
On June 28, the jury found that the defendants should give up bank accounts, jewelry, watches, gold coins, three residential properties and approximately $ 450,000 in cash.
According to evidence presented at trial, the defendants used false, stolen or synthetic identities – including the created identities of “Iuliia Zhadko” and “Viktoria Kauichko” – to submit fraudulent loan applications. In support of the fraudulent loan applications, the defendants also submitted false and fictitious documents to lenders and the Small Business Administration (SBA), including false identity documents, tax documents and payroll records. The defendants then used the fraudulently obtained funds as a down payment on luxury homes in Tarzana, Glendale and Palm Desert. They also used the funds to purchase gold coins, diamonds, jewelry, luxury watches, fine imported furniture, designer handbags, clothing, and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The conspirators have secured more than $ 18 million in COVID-19 relief funds.
Sentencing is scheduled for September 13.
Prior to the verdict, the following defendants pleaded guilty to criminal charges in this case:
- Manuk Grigoryan, 46, of Sun Valley, pleaded guilty on June 7 to one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. The court set the sentence for September 13. Grigoryan faces up to 32 years in federal prison.
- Edvard Paronyan, 40, of Granada Hills, pleaded guilty on June 11 to one count of wire fraud. The court set the sentence for August 30. Paronyan faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
- Tamara Dadyan, 39, of Encino, wife of Artur Ayvazyan and cousin of Vahe Dadyan, pleaded guilty on June 14 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, one count of usurpation aggravated identity and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The court set the sentence for September 27. Dadyan faces up to 52 years in federal prison.
- Arman Hayrapetyan, 41, of Glendale, pleaded guilty on June 21 to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The court set the sentence for September 20. Hayrapetyan faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid and Acting U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison of the Central District of California made the announcement.
The FBI, the IRS Criminal Investigation, the SBA’s Office of the Inspector General and the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of the Inspector General have investigated this case.
Trial attorney Christopher Fenton of the Justice Department’s fraud section and assistant U.S. attorneys Scott Paetty, Brian Faerstein and Catherine Ahn of the Central District of California are continuing the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Boyle of the Central District of California is handling the forfeiture.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General created the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Working Group to mobilize the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with government agencies to strengthen efforts to combat and prevent the pandemic fraud. The Working Group strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable national and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by scaling up and integrating mechanisms coordination, identifying resources and techniques for uncovering fraudulent actors and their programs, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Enforcement (NCDF) hotline at 866-720 -5721 or via the NCDF web complaint form at https: // www. justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.