California Couple Vanished After Stealing $20 Million in COVID-19 Fraud Scheme, Only Left a Goodbye Note for Their 3 Kids
A California couple was sentenced to prison for their role in a massive COVID-19 relief fraud scheme, but authorities still need to catch them first.
According to CNN, Richard Ayvazyan and his wife, Marietta Terabelian, cut off their tracking bracelets on August 29 and fled their California home.
California Couple Behind COVID-19 Fraud Scheme Abandons Children
The California couple reportedly abandoned their three children. They left a goodbye note for the kids, ages 13, 15, and 16.
"We will be together again one day," the typewritten note read. "This is not a goodbye but a brief break from each other."
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson sentenced in absentia the 43-year-old father to 17 years in prison for conspiracy, bank fraud, and money laundering, while his 37-year-old wife received six-year imprisonment.
During the sentencing, the judge said he could not recall a fraud case conducted in such an intentional way and orchestrated without any regard for the law.
Wilson added that Ayvazyan is an "endemic cold-hearted fraudster" that has no regard for the law and someone who views fraud as an achievement.
U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison said the defendants used the COVID-19 crisis as a chance to steal millions of dollars. Wilkison noted that the defendants had executed the fraud scheme in much-needed government aid intended for people and businesses that suffered from the pandemic's economic effects.
According to the prosecutors, the California couple carried out a scheme to steal more than $20 million in relief funds specifically intended for small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Three Individuals Sentenced to Prison For Conspiracy, Bank Fraud, and Money Laundering in California
The New York Post reported that the judge also sentenced Richard Ayvazyan's brother, Artur, 41, to five years in prison.
A federal jury found the three suspects guilty on June 25 of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, eight counts of bank fraud, 11 counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Based on the court documents and evidence presented during the trial, the three convicted individuals created a number of fictitious San Fernando Valley businesses, attached fake payrolls, and forged tax returns to many of their 150 loan applications.
They used the names of people who were dead, foreign exchange students who briefly visited the U.S. years ago, and whose identities were stolen to open bank accounts for the sham businesses.
Prosecutors said the California couple, along with Ayvazyan's brother and five co-conspirators, used the money to buy mansions in Tarzana, Glendale, and Palm Desert along with diamonds, gold coins, luxury watches, furniture, and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle
Ayvazyan and his brother were also convicted of aggravated identity theft. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $20,000 for any information that would lead to the arrest of Richard Ayvazyan and his wife.
This article is owned by Latin Post.
Written by: Jess Smith
WATCH: California Couple Sentenced for $20 Million in COVID Fraud - From New York Post
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