Suspect extradited from Poland in $2.6 million organized fraud ring
News: 2020 Press Release
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Department of Insurance detectives took Yeghishe Msryan, 67, into custody after he was arrested in Poland and extradited back to Los Angeles by the U.S. Marshals Service for his alleged involvement in an organized fraud ring where he and three co-conspirators submitted 50 fraudulent auto loans to receive an unearned $2.6 million in loan payments. Msryan is awaiting arraignment and bail is set at $1,980,000.
Two co-conspirators, Peter Yerkanyan, 41, of North Hollywood, and Artur Baghdishyan, 36, of Porter Ranch, have already been prosecuted. Yerkanyan, the mastermind behind the scheme, was sentenced to 10 years in state prison and ordered to pay $2.6 million in restitution after pleading guilty to four felony counts of grand theft. Baghdishyan was sentenced to one year in jail, three years’ probation and ordered to pay $181,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to one felony count of grand theft. The third co-conspirator, Shoghik Baburyan, 57, is an Armenian National whose whereabouts are unknown.
“This case sends an important message to those who commit fraud—we will find you and you will be prosecuted,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “This complicated scheme not only defrauded insurers, it stole sensitive information from consumers and put them at great financial risk. Thanks to the excellent work of department detectives and prosecution by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, we are taking down this organized ring of fraudsters and protecting California consumers."
The investigation by the Department of Insurance found that Luxor Auto Group, an auto dealer/broker in Glendale, between July 2012 and October 2012 submitted 50 fraudulent auto loans for high-end vehicles they claimed they held title to. Luxor provided credit applications, loan contracts, and personal identifying information for supposed buyers. The loans were approved and over $2.6 million was deposited into Luxor’s bank account over the three-month time period.
After receiving account statements and payment requests for the vehicles, the majority of the supposed buyers filed police reports for identity theft, stating they never bought the vehicles. The investigation discovered Yerkanyan had links to several of the supposed buyers and was in possession of their personal identifying information used to acquire the fraudulent loans.
The Department of Motor Vehicles found that Luxor did not own any of the vehicles and that some of them were not even in California. According to DMV dealer documents, Baburyan was listed as the owner of Luxor. The investigation found Baghdishyan was previously the secretary and a salesman at Luxor and Yerkanyan was the finance manager at the time of the scheme. Both Baghdishyan and Yerkanyan were also the contact persons for the company that provided the loan. Additionally, Baghdishyan and Baburyan were the only authorized signatories on Luxor’s bank account.
After the funds were deposited into Luxor’s bank account, the majority of the money was laundered out of the account by checks written to Baburyan and/or one of her other businesses, including Worldwide Transport. Over $581,000 of the theft proceeds were deposited into her accounts. Checks from Luxor’s bank account were also written to Msryan and/or his fraudulent business, National Automotive Funding.
At the time of the scheme, Yeghishe was in the United States on a visitor’s visa. While in the U.S., he obtained a driver’s license, used a fake social security number to set up a fraudulent business, National Automotive Funding, and opened six bank accounts in his name and his business’ name. Yeghishe had over $1 million dollars of the theft proceeds deposited into these accounts. A majority of the money was withdrawn in cash, cashier’s checks, used to gamble in Las Vegas, and some was wired to Armenia. When the scheme concluded he left the country in October 2012.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting this case. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Shoghik Baburyan is urged to contact the department at 559-440-5921.
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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 www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.