Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

A Southern California man who masterminded a $1.66 million mass-mailing scam targeting trademark applicants pleaded guilty Monday to mail fraud and money laundering charges while an associate pleaded guilty to helping launder the scheme’s proceeds.

Artashes Darbinyan of Glendale, 37, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments before U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Orbel Hakobyan, 42, also of Glendale, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments before Wilson, who set sentencing for both men on June 19.

The scam operated from 2013 to 2015 when Darbinyan, using mass mailings from bogus companies called the Trademark Compliance Office and the Trademark Compliance Center, offered trademark registration and monitoring services to trademark holders who had recently registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

For a $385 fee, the companies promised to monitor for possible infringement and send reports to the client, court records show. Instead, Darbinyan opened bogus accounts, in which he and Hakobyan deposited or cashed checks sent by the trademark holders.

Darbinyan and Hakobyan were charged along with Albert Yagubyan of Burbank, 36, in an updated indictment unsealed on July 19. Yagubyan, the former branch manager of the Wells Fargo branch where the majority of the scam’s proceeds were laundered, is awaiting trial.

“As admitted today, Darbinyan and Hakobyan used false identities and virtual office centers to scam trademark holders,” said Anthony J. Orlando, acting special agent in charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.

“They turned their illicit proceeds to cash and gold,” he said. “IRS Criminal Investigation remains committed to unraveling complex financial transactions and money laundering schemes where individuals attempt to conceal the true source of their money.”

–City News Service

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.