Sun Valley Resident Sentenced to 54 Months Imprisonment for Role in International Money Laundering and Identity Theft Scheme Involving $14 Million in Fraudulent Tax Refunds
SANTA ANA – A Sun Valley man was sentenced late Monday afternoon to 54 months imprisonment for his participation in a large-scale international identity theft scheme that fraudulently obtained tax refunds by using bogus Republic of Armenia passports and then engaged in money laundering of over $14 million of these criminal proceeds.
Karen Pogosian, 47, was sentenced by United States District Judge Andrew J. Guilford. In addition to the prison term, Judge Guilford ordered Pogosian to pay restitution of $277,617 to the Internal Revenue Service.
Pogosian pled guilty in September of last year to one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
According to documents filed with the court, the scheme involved over 7,000 false tax returns that together claimed approximately $38 million in refunds. Approximately $14 million obtained through the fraud scheme was then deposited into bank accounts to conceal its illegal source. The tax returns were filed using identity information stolen from thousands of victims.
From August 2012 through March 2014, Pogosian opened mailbox and bank accounts using fraudulent identification with the names and personal information of identity theft victims. Pogosian also used the identification documents to create other IDs. For example, Pogosian used a foreign passport in the name of another person to obtain a Costco membership card also in that same person’s name, but with Pogosian’s photograph.
Pogosian’s use of stolen identities resulted in approximately $277,617 in loses. According to court records, defendant was present illegally in the U.S. at the time he committed the crimes and had been receiving public benefits.
The case against Pogosian is part of a larger investigation in which 14 defendants have been charged, nine defendants have pled guilty (eight have been sentenced), two are fugitives, two are pending trial and one is awaiting extradition.
The ongoing investigation into money laundering involving fraudulently obtained tax refunds and related frauds is being conducted by IRS Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Charles Pell of the Santa Ana Branch Office. Assistant United States Attorney Frank Kortum represents the United States in the civil forfeiture action.