February 25, 2022
Fraud Friday – Three Fugitives in $18 Million COVID Loan Fraud Case Caught in Montenegro
Earlier this week, three members of a COVID-19 relief fraud ring were found in Montenegro after being on the run for nearly six months. Currently, the United States does not have an extradition treaty with Montenegro. It is unclear how the fugitives will return to the U.S., but the Department of Justice is working to get the trio extradited.
After being convicted of twenty-one charges each, Richard Ayvazyan and Marietta Terabelian fled the country on August 29, 2021. It is reported that the couple cut their ankle monitors off and left a note for their children before leaving the country. Despite this, they were sentenced in November 2021. Richard received a seventeen-year sentence, and Marietta received a six-year sentence to federal prison.
The third fugitive found in Montenegro, Tamara Dadyan, evaded her ten-year prison sentence on January 28, 2022. Her lawyer reports that she came to his office the day that she was supposed to report to prison, but she never showed up to start her sentence.
The FBI added Richard and Marietta to their Most Wanted list and offered a $20,000 reward for any information that lead to their arrests.
The group’s fraud scheme involved eight different people, each applying for and receiving around 150 EIDL and PPP loans using the identities of deceased individuals and foreign exchange students. In all, they attempted to obtain more than $20 million. Using the loan proceeds, the group purchased diamonds, jewelry, fine imported furnishings, designer handbags, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and down payments on multiple luxury homes.
Four accomplices pleaded guilty to their charges, and another accomplice was found guilty at the trial with Richard and Marietta.
NBC Los Angeles Article – Capture in Montenegro
NBC News Article – Tamara Dadyan on the Run
DOJ Press Release – Found Guilty
FBI Most Wanted – Marietta Terabelian
FBI Most Wanted – Richard Ayvazyan