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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 22, 2014

Lead Defendant Admits Stealing Identities From Elderly Victims In Order To Steal More Than $250,000 In Taxpayer’s Money Federal Authorities Continue To Focus On The Growing Problem Of Identity Theft.

 

Arman Eritsian pled guilty today to conspiracy to commit wire fraud as part of his conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service of over $250,000 – by filing false tax returns in the names of stolen identities.

As set forth in his plea agreement, Eritsian admitted stealing personal identity information from innocent victims in order to file false tax returns in their names. These false returns generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent tax refunds that should never have been taken from the U.S. Treasury. As part of this scheme, Eritsian and his fellow conspirators directed the IRS to send the ill-gotten refunds to postal addresses and/or bank accounts under their control.

For his part, Eritsian admitted that he stole the identities of people to use on the fraudulent tax returns. Eritsian also informed the Court that he attempted to conceal and disguise his illegal activity by using multiple email addresses to communicate with conspirators, and using debit cards to access the proceeds of the fraudulent refunds. In all, Eritsian admitted filing false tax returns in the names of more than a score of victims. In addition to jail time, Eritsian is required by the terms of his plea to make full restitution to the IRS for the losses caused by his criminal conduct.

Eritsian’s plea is the latest in a series of 22 guilty pleas following the September arrests of over 30 people in “Operation Trillions Trouble” a multi-agency investigation – led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division -- into multiple tax fraud conspiracies, as well as several schemes to defraud various banks. These disparate criminal plans resulted in the bringing of four related indictments charging 58 defendants, 28 of whom are international fugitives.

United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy praised the hard work of the agents from the FBI and IRS on their continued success in these related cases. AToday's guilty plea is yet another example of our office's commitment to investigate and prosecute those who illegally take advantage of others for their own personal gain and at the expense of the American taxpayer.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Daphne Hearn commented, “The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and provide leadership and expertise when it comes to investigating sophisticated and complex criminal conspiracies. The FBI will aggressively pursue these cases to prevent criminals from lining their own pockets with precious taxpayer's dollars.”

Erick Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation, stated, “Our agents investigated and worked together with our law enforcement partners in bringing to light a massive tax fraud scheme. Arman Eritsian’s guilty plea represents another major step forward in bringing this sophisticated network of scammers to justice.”

DEFENDANT   Case Number:
Arman Eritsian Age: 35 San Diego, CA
 
CHARGES

Count 1: Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 B Conspiracy
Maximum penalties: 5 years custody; $250,000 fine; 3 years supervised release; mandatory restitution.

 
PROGRESS OF CASES CHARGED AS PART OF
OPERATION TRILLIONS TROUBLE
Summary: As of May 22, 2014,
22 of 30 (non-fugitive) defendants have been convicted.
 

13CR3479-BTM B Convictions (Conspiracy to commit wire fraud)
Harout Gevorgyan
Yvonne Mihailescu
Yelena Sklyarova
Yermek Dossymbekov
Vyacheslav Tsoy

13CR3480-BTM B Convictions
Arman Eritsian – Conspiracy to commit wire fraud

13CR3481-BTM B Convictions (Conspiracy to commit bank fraud – All defendants)
Karen Galstian
Vahag Stepanyan
George Karapetian
Ara Adamyan
Christopher Buckely
Carlos Ferrufino
Akop Galstian
Farbob Golhassani
Paul Gonnelly
Tatiana Kabachinskya
Sedrak Movesyan
Robert Rodriguez
Christopher Ruiz

13CR3482-BTM B Convictions (Conspiracy to commit bank fraud – All defendants)
Tigran Eritsyan
Konstantin Yugay
Mae Barbara Weissberger

INVESTIGATING AGENCY

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Internal Revenue Service
Los Angeles Police Department

*Indictments and complaints are not evidence that the defendant committed the crime charged.  All defendants are presumed innocent until the United States meets its burden in court of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.    

Updated July 23, 2015