Former Wells Fargo Branch Manager and Two Others Charged with Laundering Proceeds of Trademark Scam
Charges against the former manager of a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Glendale, California, were unsealed late yesterday, alleging that he was part of a scheme to launder the proceeds of a mass mailing scam targeting holders of U.S. trademarks. Two other California men had previously been charged for perpetrating the scam and committing bank fraud in furtherance of the scam.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California, Inspector in Charge Robert Wemyss of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Los Angeles Division, Inspector in Charge Maria Kelokates of the USPIS Washington Division and Acting Special Agent in Charge Aimee E. Schabilion of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.
Albert Yagubyan, 36, of Burbank, California; Artashes Darbinyan, 36, of Glendale; and Orbel Hakobyan, 41, of Glendale, were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering in a second superseding indictment filed on July 14, 2016, in the Central District of California. Yagubyan was also charged with four counts of concealment money laundering, one count of false bank entries and one count of witness tampering. Hakobyan was charged with three counts of concealment money laundering. Darbinyan was charged with four counts of mail fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft, five counts of concealment money laundering and one count of bank fraud.
According to the second superseding indictment, Yagubyan was the manager of a Wells Fargo branch in Glendale until October 2015. The second superseding indictment alleges that from 2013 to 2015, Yagubyan allowed Darbinyan and Hakobyan to open bogus bank accounts at the Wells Fargo branch through which proceeds of the trademark scam could be laundered in exchange for a share of the proceeds. Darbinyan and Hakobyan deposited checks from the victims of the mass mailing scam into bogus accounts at Wells Fargo, then Yagubyan allegedly instructed Wells Fargo employees to approve withdrawals by Darbinyan and Hakobyan from those accounts, even though the two men were not the signatories on the accounts, according to the second superseding indictment. The indictment unsealed yesterday alleges that with Yagubyan’s assistance, Darbinyan and Hakobyan were able to launder $1.29 million into gold and cash through Wells Fargo.
Yagubyan is charged with a separate count of false bank entries for allegedly instructing a Wells Fargo employee to open an account for Darbinyan under the identity of another person. The second superseding indictment also charges Yagubyan with witness tampering for instructing a Wells Fargo employee to withhold the truth from federal investigators.
Darbinyan was originally charged in October 2015 with 12 counts of mail fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft. A first superseding indictment filed in January 2016 charged Darbinyan and Hakobyan each with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of bank fraud. Darbinyan was additionally charged with mail fraud, aggravated identity and money laundering counts.
The charges and allegations in the second superseding indictment, as well as those in the original and first superseding indictments, are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The USPIS and IRS-CI investigated the case. Trial Attorneys William E. Johnston and Brian K. Kidd of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.