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Six Arrested in Alleged San Fernando Valley-Based Fraud Ring

According to a 132-count indictment, members of the scheme obtained nearly 2,000 stolen identities.

Federal authorities today arrested six of eight defendants charged in an alleged San Fernando Valley-based fraud ring that used stolen identities to collect nearly $10 million in phony tax refunds.

According to a 132-count indictment, filed this week in Los Angeles federal court, members of the scheme obtained nearly 2,000 stolen identities, many from retired people and residents of homeless shelters, some of whom had not filed federal tax returns in years.

Prosecutors allege the defendants then submitted forms to the Internal Revenue Service under the names of the identity-theft victims. After getting refunds, the defendants took the fraudulently obtained checks to various check cashing companies, which took their own cuts, according to the indictment.

In an effort to hide their activities, the eight used coded language to refer to U.S. Treasury checks, called each other by nicknames, used bogus addresses on their own driver's licenses and had "straw buyers" purchase property, federal prosecutors allege.

"These individuals demonstrated a blatant disregard for the integrity of the United States tax system and caused immeasurable hardship to innocent victims," said Richard Weber, chief of the IRS criminal investigations unit.

Those arrested today are:

-- Ashot Karapetian, 47, of North Hollywood;

-- Suren "Sonny" Gambaryan, 33, of North Hollywood;

-- Artak "Max" Berberyan, 33, of Van Nuys;

-- Vigen "Vic" Tsaturyan, 47, of Sun Valley;

-- Armen "Roman" Berberyan, 33, of Van Nuys; and

-- Arman Zargaryan, 30, of Granada Hills.

Additionally, defendants Akop "Jack" Kantrdzyan, 33, of Sylmar, and David "Little Guy" Samsonyan, 31, of Winnetka, are fugitives, authorities said.

The indictment charges conspiracy, theft of government money, mail fraud, money laundering, aggravated identity theft, and cashing government checks with forged signatures. All eight defendants are charged in the conspiracy count, and each are charged in various mail fraud counts.

Authorities also arrested two others on unrelated charges. Armine Nazaryan, 41, of North Hollywood, was indicted on charges of making false statements to Homeland Security Investigations agents, and Spartak Karapetian, 23, of North Hollywood, son of Ashot Karpetian, was arrested on suspicion of being a felon with a gun, officials said.

Richard March 13, 2013 at 10:04 PM
Why does everyone's last name in this article end with "yan"?
anon March 22, 2013 at 08:08 PM
Unfortunately, the "yan" and "ian" last names are usually for people who are Armenians. Being an Armenian myself, these Armenians are a disgrace to the Armenian people...
Lilly March 25, 2013 at 09:29 PM
I'm Armenian and also the victim in this case. After finding out that my SS # was stolen and used i started doing more research and found out that this is happening Nationwide and its not just Armenians but all races. It's a shame! IRS has over 300 thousand cases and have only about 200 employees handling similar cases. I got a police report and found out that they go around nice neighborhoods and steal mail with personal information. Be aware and make sure you put a lock on your mailbox.
Armen k. April 25, 2013 at 11:21 PM
There not a disgrace u dont no if there innocent or guilty so dont say that i am armenian also and just cuz someone gets arrested doesnt mean there a shame millions of peopl get arrested everyday.

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