Alleged fraud ring involving local residents busted

Six Glendale and Burbank residents were arrested Thursday in an alleged massive tax and bank fraud ring that resulted in the Internal Revenue Service paying more than $7 million in refunds for bogus claims — some of which were issued for deceased individuals.

The local residents were among 55 defendants named in four grand jury indictments alleging they stole the identities of more than 2,000 people to claim in excess of $20 million in fraudulent IRS tax refunds, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego.

“This case is staggering in terms of the number of victims, its level of sophistication, its audacious methods and the callous disregard for victims,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said in a statement. “These arrests are the first strike back on behalf of taxpayers and more than 2,000 victims who now have to reclaim their good names — a frustrating task that can take years. We will continue to make these cases a priority.”

Of the 55 defendants named in indictments, 22 were arrested in the Los Angeles area, San Diego, Las Vegas and Maryland. They are all charged with conspiracy

Burbank residents Ara Adamyan, 32, and Vardges Vardanyan, 25, were taken into custody during Thursday’s sweeps and charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and criminal forfeiture.

Also arrested were Glendale residents Yvonne Mihailescu, 21, Ernest Soloian, 30, Arthur Grigorian, 32, and Ashot Mnatsakamyan, 34.

Grigorian, Soloian and a third man, Hovhannes Harutyunyan, 34, of Los Angeles were allegedly leaders in one of the stolen identity schemes, which was also the largest indictment, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Grigorian and Soloian are charged with conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, criminal forfeiture, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.

In their scheme, officials alleged that bogus returns from fake gambling winnings and losses as well as pretend earnings and withholdings were filed, with claims totaling $17 million.

Mihailescu reportedly worked at Wells Fargo Bank, where she opened accounts to receive bogus tax refunds and launder proceeds.

They rented an apartment in San Diego, where they opened bank accounts and post office boxes and collected tax refunds, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.


Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.


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