November 25, 2022
Fraud Friday – Fugitive Couple Extradited from Montenegro for $20 Million Fraud
In June 2021, a couple from California, Marietta Terabelian and Richard Ayvazyan, were convicted for a PPP and EIDL fraud scheme. Toward the end of August 2021, they cut their tracking bracelets and fled the United States. After being gone for a year and two months, they arrived at the Los Angeles International Airport last week. The couple was expected to appear in the United States District Court in Los Angeles last Friday afternoon, but there has yet to be an update from the Department of Justice.
According to court documents and evidence, Richard led a fraud ring that conspired to obtain over $20 million in fraudulent EIDL and PPP funds. The family ring submitted 150 applications to the two programs. In the applications, they used fake, stolen, or synthetic identities on the applications, including the names of elderly or deceased people and foreign exchange students who visited the United States years ago. To support the applications, they submitted false and fictitious documentation to the SBA and other lenders consisting of fraudulent tax documents, identity documents, and payroll records.
The obtained funds were used as down payments on three luxury homes in California. In addition, they purchased items such as gold coins, diamonds, jewelry, luxury watches, designer handbags, clothing, imported furnishings, and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The jury found that the couple must forfeit all the items, bank accounts, and $450,000 in cash.
Richard Ayvazyan and Marietta Terabelian were convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, 11 counts of wire fraud, 8 counts of bank fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. They received a sentence of 17 years and 6 years respectively in absentia back in November 2021.
Tamara Dadyan, Richard’s sister-in-law, also fled the United States before starting her sentence and was later arrested in Montenegro, but as of now, there have not been any announcements on her extradition.
The Government of Montenegro, including the Ministry of Justice, and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs assisted substantially in the couple’s arrest and extradition.
DOJ Press Release