A woman who ran an apparent bogus business in Glendale was arrested this week after she allegedly defrauded elderly victims who paid her to help them get Section 8 housing vouchers to avoid a long waiting list, police said.
Naira Shakhmuradyan was taken into custody Tuesday at her Van Nuys home on an outstanding warrant stemming from the fraud investigation, according to Glendale police spokeswoman Tahnee Lightfoot.
"We believe there are many more victims that have not reported the theft-fraud," she said.
Shakhmuradyan faces four felony counts of grand theft of the personal property of four victims, resulting in a loss of $13,000, according to Shiara Dávila-Morales, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney.
The victims were seeking Section 8 housing vouchers, so they went to Shakhmuradyan, who allegedly promised to help them for a fee.
She reportedly ran her business under the name Concierge Capital Group Inc. out of an office in the 100 block of North Jackson Street, where she met with victims between Dec. 15, 2010 and June 11, 2011.
She provided victims with fake Section 8 housing vouchers and collected money from each of them as a deposit upon completing a fraudulent inspection of their homes.
City housing inspectors typically check a unit to make sure it's safe and sanitary before they authorize payment, said Peter Zovak, Glendale's deputy housing director. After a home passes inspection, they authorize the assistance and set up a payment system with the landlord.
In this case, the victims reportedly didn't hear back from Shakhmuradyan and became concerned about the length of the application process.
Months after applying, they returned to Shakhmuradyan's office and discovered it was empty.
The victims notified investigators about Shakhmuradyan this past February.
Individuals who are seeking Section 8 housing assistance don't need to pay for services because applying and qualifying for it is free, Zovak said.
But funding for the housing program is limited, so individuals often must wait years before they actually get assistance.
In Glendale, 2,342 households remain on a waiting list, which closed in 2001. At the time, more than 12,000 households had applied for assistance.
Shakhmuradyan is scheduled to appear for a hearing on Nov. 14 regarding her outstanding warrant.
Anyone who believes they were victimized by Shakhmuradyan is asked to call the police department's Financial Crimes Bureau at (818) 548-3101. To report Section 8 fraud, call the city's hotline at (818) 551-6902.