Ten people were indicted on charges alleging they ran an intricate money-laundering operation involving tax fraud, federal authorities said Thursday, Nov. 12.

The defendants are accused of filing more than $30 million in tax refunds, from about 7,000 fraudulent tax returns, filed from stolen taxpayer identities, officials said.

Most are from the San Fernando Valley. Authorities were still looking for three defendants Thursday afternoon, a Department of Justice news release states.

Gagik Airapetian, who authorities allege led the scheme, is accused of directing others to use altered foreign passports, the release states. Most came from the Republic of Armenia, with fake photos altered on top of real passport-holders’ pictures, authorities said.

The documents were used to rent mailboxes and open more than 500 bank accounts for money laundering, the release states.

Airapetian, a 62-year-old Woodland Hills resident, is charged with laundering more than $500,000 in tax fraud proceeds.

Others arrested and charged with money laundering are: Tigran Galstyan, 48, of Sylmar; Moses Seraydarian, 54, of Northridge; Stepan Terakopyan, 35, of Granada Hills; Petros Terakopyan, 64, of Sun Valley; Karen Pogosian, 49, of Van Nuys; and Haroutioun Demirdjian, 54, of North Hollywood, a news release states.

Davit Asoyan, 29, of Granada Hills; Nikoghos Petrosyan; and Albert Andriasov, 28, of Las Vegas; were at large Thursday, authorities said.

Thursday’s arrests were part of a multi-agency investigation into a scheme in which fake identities and passports were used to open hundreds of bank accounts to launder millions in tax refunds the IRS fraudulently received, the Department of Justice release states.

Federal authorities have now charged 35 defendants linked to the scheme, officials said.

LA Daily News Original Article

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