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CA Department of Insurance

Insurance Commissioner Jones Announces Nine Southern California Men Charged in Cell Phone Insurance Fraud

News: 2011 Press Release

For Release: May 5, 2011
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Insurance Commissioner Jones Announces Nine Southern California Men Charged in Cell Phone Insurance Fraud
Losses Estimated at $400,000

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced nine Southern California residents have been charged in a cell phone fraud case, stemming from a 2008 investigation by the California Department of Insurance (CDI) Fraud Division. According to Commissioner Jones, losses from the scheme are estimated at more than $400,000.

Five of the nine defendants were arraigned in Los Angeles County Superior Court on April 28. They are Akop Markaryan, 26, Armenak Krdanyan, 25, and Ojak Hutagaol, all of Van Nuys; Sevak Ovsepyan, 24, Glendale; and Shant Artoonian, 25, Granada Hills. They face charges that include insurance fraud, grand theft, theft of identifying information, illegal computer access, theft of information and commercial burglary. 

In June 2008, CDI's Fraud Division received information that contract couriers for the delivery company DHL were stealing cell phone packages delivered by Asurion Insurance Services to its customers. Asurion is a national company that insures wireless customers against breakage, loss or theft. The company also delivers replacement phones to its customers.

The Fraud Division's investigation found that Markaryan, who owned a cell phone store in Van Nuys, Krdanyan and Ovspyan were making false claims to Asurion using Verizon customers' account information that was allegedly stolen by Artoonian from the carrier's proprietary databases. DHL contract courier Hutagaol allegedly provided the suspects with random addresses within their delivery routes, stole the delivered cell phone packages and then sold them for a fee.

The case is being prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Major Fraud Division.             

The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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