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Money-laundering scheme linked to fraudulent Armenian passports in U.S.

Federal authorities have arrested seven people charged in an identity theft and international money-laundering scheme that netted $14 million in fraudulently obtained federal income tax refunds, the government said.

The criminal complaints were filed April 19 in United States District Court in Santa Ana and unsealed next week, said the U.S. Department of Justice.

The seven arrested were part of a 10-member group, which authorities believe operated the ring.

At least seven of the suspects are from the San Fernando Valley.

The Internal Revenue Service has identified about 7,000 fraudulent tax returns related to the scheme that sought about $38 million in refunds, authorities said.

The IRS issued about $14 million in refunds and the money was deposited into and laundered through bank accounts, the government said.

The government alleges that the ring used fraudulent foreign passports to commit identity theft and open numerous bank accounts and mailbox addresses.

The criminal complaints says the passports were from the Republic of Armenia, Georgia and the Czech Republic.

The five arrested in April were:

• Eduard Astvatsatryan, 34, of Glendale, who allegedly opened at least 17 bank accounts and 14 mailbox addresses in different identities using fraudulent Armenian passports.

• Hripsime Avagyan, 24, of Burbank, who allegedly opened at least six bank accounts and seven mailbox addresses in different identities using fraudulent Armenian passports.

• Armen Mkrtchyan, 46, of Glendale, who allegedly opened at least two bank accounts and two mailbox addresses in different identities using fraudulent Armenian passports.

• Sargis “Sergio” Tabadzhyan, 54, of West Hollywood, who allegedly opened at least 13 bank accounts and seven mailbox addresses in different identities using fraudulent Armenian passports.

• Artash Stepanyan, 31, of Glendale, who allegedly opened at least 14 bank accounts and six mailbox addresses in different identities using fraudulent Armenian and Georgian passports.

•Arman M. Khachkalyan, who allegedly opened at least four bank accounts and two mailbox addresses in different identities using fraudulent Georgian passports.

•Konstantin Galstyan, 23, of Sylmar, who allegedly opened at least four bank accounts and two mailbox addresses in different identities using fraudulent Armenian passports;

Avagyan was released from jail after she posted $250,000 bail. The other six suspects arrested are being held without bond.

Authorities are searching for Mkhitar Mkrtchyan, 43, of Sylmar; Karen Pogosian, 45, of Sun Valley and a John Doe, the government said.


Los Angeles Daily News
POSTED: 04/26/16



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Armweeklynews [06.06.2016]
Money-laundering scheme linked to fraudulent Armenian passports in U.S.