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September 24, 2021Los Angeles, CA, United StatesCovid-19

Los Angeles-area man sentenced to nearly 3½ years in federal prison for scheming to fraudulently obtain $650,600 COVID relief loan

LOS ANGELES – A Sunland resident has been sentenced to 41 months in federal prison for fraudulently obtaining a $650,600 Paycheck Protection Program loan under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The case is the result of a probe by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles’ El Camino Real Financial Crimes Task Force – a multi-agency task force comprised of federal and state investigators focused on financial crimes in the Southern California area – and the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General.

Andranik Amiryan, 42, was sentenced late Thursday afternoon by U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee, who also ordered him to pay $650,600 in restitution. Amiryan pleaded guilty on April 28 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

Amiryan opened a bank account by using a stolen identity. Then, posing as the identity theft victim, he falsely told the bank that he was the CEO of ACBA Technologies Inc., a Northridge-based software company. In fact, ACBA existed only as a corporate shell. Amiryan’s co-conspirators arranged to wire into that account $650,600 of CARES Act relief funds by falsely claiming that ACBA Technologies had a monthly payroll of more than $500,000 and attaching forged tax forms as support. Once the money was in his account, Amiryan wrote checks to his co-conspirators and to other shell companies he controlled, effectively withdrawing approximately $452,287 of the funds before the bank froze the account.

Amiryan has been in federal custody since September 2020, following his arrest by HSI special agents and law enforcement partners. At the time of his arrest, agents seized $11,800 in cash found in his jacket, and soon afterward seized more than $262,000 from bank accounts he controlled. As part of his guilty plea, Amiryan agreed to forfeit those assets, which are worth nearly $275,000.

Judge Gee described as “despicable” Amiryan’s theft of public funds that were intended by Congress to help small businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

HSI launched Operation Stolen Promise in April 2020 to protect the Homeland from the increasing and evolving threat posed by COVID-19-related fraud and criminal activity. As of May 2021, the agency has seized more than $49 million in illicit proceeds; made 281 arrests; executed over 200 search warrants and analyzed more than 80,000 COVID-19 related domain names. Working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 2,100 shipments of mislabeled, fraudulent, unauthorized or prohibited COVID-19 test kits and other related items have been seized. For its role in the operation, HSI’s Cyber Crimes Center applies technological, operational, and criminal investigative expertise, products and services to target the criminals and organizations attempting to commit cybercrimes and exploitation related to COVID-19.

Federal law enforcement agencies are united in our efforts to fight against COVID-19 fraud.

HSI has identified tips to recognize and report COVID-19 fraud. In May, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form.

This case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California’s Major Frauds and Asset Forfeiture Sections.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move.

HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 Special Agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Updated: 10/13/2021