Two Encino couples charged in $5.6-million COVID-19 loan scheme
Two Encino couples are facing federal charges for an alleged scheme to bilk more than $5.6 million out of COVID-19 economic relief programs, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.
The defendants used some of the proceeds for down payments on a $3.25-million home in Tarzana and a $1-million home in Glendale, according to prosecutors.
Richard Ayvazyan, 42, and his wife, Mariette Terebelian, 36, were arrested Oct. 20 in Miami on the way back from a vacation in Turks and Caicos Islands, prosecutors said.
Artur Ayvazyan, 36, and his wife, Tamara Dadyan, 39, were arrested Nov. 5. The Ayvazyans are brothers.
On Tuesday, a federal grand jury charged the four with 12 counts of bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy.
The indictment alleges that the couples used fake or stolen identities, including the names “Iuliia Zhadko” and “Viktoria Kauichko,” to submit at least 35 fraudulent applications for loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
They also submitted fraudulent loan applications for the Economic Injury Disaster Relief and Paycheck Protection programs in their own names using fake payroll and tax records, the indictment said.
In all, the two couples pocketed at least $4.6 million of the $5.6 million in government assistance they had sought.
Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said Wednesday there is a chance the case could grow in scope as the investigation continues.
All four defendants were released on bond and are awaiting arraignment.
Attorneys for Artur Ayvazyan and Dadyan declined to comment. It was not immediately clear whether Richard Ayvazyan and Terabelian had attorneys.
The conspiracy and bank fraud charges each carry a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison and the wire fraud counts up to 20 years.
The two couples are not the first to allegedly use coronavirus relief loans for personal gain. Mrozek cited at least eight other federal prosecutions involving COVID-relief fraud.
In one case, an L.A. business owner allegedly gambled away some of the $9 million in relief loans earmarked for his employees.
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