ICE HSI probe results in payday loan company owner pleading guilty to wire fraud
LOS ANGELES – A payday loan company owner pleaded guilty today to a federal criminal charge for defrauding money transmitting companies by failing to remit to them, as promised, nearly $1 million of wire transfers sent on behalf of his customers over just two weeks.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI.
Arsen Khumaryan, 41, of Glendale, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt has scheduled a January 28 sentencing hearing, at which time Khumaryan will face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
Khumaryan owns Ask Inter Inc. (AII), a Glendale-based company that does business as Monroe’s Payday Advance, a financial services and check-cashing store. AII was an agent of MoneyGram and Ria Money Transfer, businesses that quickly provide money for a fee to individuals and companies in need of it.
As part of AII’s contracts with MoneyGram and Ria, Khumaryan was required to deposit into a trust account the money he received from his customers. After the wire transfer requests were made, MoneyGram and Ria would use their own funds to wire money to the recipients. AII was then required to remit the customers’ funds from the trust account to MoneyGram and Ria no later than one business day after the customer requested the wire transfer. In exchange for selling MoneyGram and Ria’s products, the companies paid AII a commission based on the fees collected from customers.
According to his plea agreement, on May 23, 2018, Khumaryan advertised on social media that customers at his store could wire money, using MoneyGram and Ria, anywhere in the world without paying any fees, and could cash checks from Ria without fees during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. Khumaryan admitted he knew that MoneyGram and Ria had not agreed to waive their wire transfer fees, nor had Ria agreed to waive its check-cashing fees.
Between May 23 and June 6, 2018, Khumaryan caused MoneyGram to send approximately $795,338 to recipients through its money transfer system. He also caused Ria to send 376 wire transfers totaling approximately $130,328 to recipients through that company’s money transfer system. Khumaryan pocketed the customers’ funds rather than remit them to the companies per his contractual obligations, causing the companies to lose more than $925,000. No MoneyGram or Ria customers were affected by Khumaryan’s fraud. This case is MoneyGram’s largest loss in the United States involving an agent’s misappropriation.
In addition, Khumaryan knowingly caused 16 bogus checks totaling approximately $104,057 to be processed through Ria’s money check-cashing system, the plea agreement states.
Khumaryan also admitted to submitting approximately $137,303 in fraudulent payments on personal credit cards issued to him by a business identified in the plea agreement as Company 3 by drawing against accounts he knew had insufficient funds to cover his payments.
The total losses in this case are $1,167,026, Khumaryan admitted.
This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California’s Major Frauds Section.