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October 24, 2012

L.A. Man Sentenced to Over 6 Years in Prison for Using Information from Elderly Victims to Obtain Credit Cards and Buy Luxury Goods

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 5:38 pm

LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles man has been sentenced to 76 months in federal prison for his role in an international identity theft and credit card fraud scheme that targeted elderly victims.

Doren Harold Ward, 37, who resides in the Park La Brea district of Los Angeles, was sentenced yesterday by United States District Judge Terry J. Hatter. In addition to the prison term, Judge Hatter ordered Ward to pay nearly $300,000 in restitution.

During yesterday’s sentencing hearing, Judge Hatter asked Ward if he knew the credit cards belonged to real people, and despite a jury finding him guilty of six felony counts in June (see:, Ward continued to deny that he knew the credit cards he abused belonged to 45 victims of identity theft.

“Identity theft is a serious crime that often has far-reaching effects on its victims,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “This lengthy prison sentence should also have a far-reaching impact, sending a powerful message to thieves like Ward that their criminal conduct will lead to severe consequences.”


June 3, 2012

Alleged Identity Thief, Hacker Charged for Computer Attacks

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 7:42 pm

LOS ANGELES – A convicted felon and alleged hacker deported from Sweden will face criminal prosecution for stealing the identities of numerous victims and waging cyber attacks on a Beverly Hills business and justice system officials. The defendant is expected to be arraigned today, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Steven Grant Almeida, 32 (dob 1/23/80), of Torrance is scheduled to be arraigned in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. He is charged in case No. BA397412.

“This cowardly cyber criminal will no longer be able to hide behind the anonymity of the Internet,” District Attorney Steve Cooley said. “He will be thoroughly exposed in court for the incredible harm he has wreaked on so many.”

Almeida faces 71 felony charges including identity theft, wiretapping, cutting a utility line, unauthorized disruption/denial of computer services, computer intrusion and grand theft.

The criminal complaint includes a prior conviction allegation in which Almeida was convicted in Los County in April 2007 of shooting at an inhabited dwelling. The criminal acts occurred in 2006. In that case, he was sentenced to a five-year state prison term.

The defendant is accused of disrupting the business operations of a Beverly Hills Pilates studio by high-jacking the phone lines and website. After purportedly gaining illegal control of the website, prosecutors allege that the defendant defaced the site.

Almeida is also accused of stealing the identities of four justice system officials. The defendant purportedly used the victims’ personal identifying information to shut off the electricity at their homes, doing so successfully in some instances. Almeida also is alleged to have gained access to credit card accounts and hacked into the private e-mail account of at least one victim.

The defendant’s bail is recommended at more than $2.3 million. If convicted as charged, Almeida faces a statutory maximum state prison sentence of 97 years.

May 10, 2012


Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 2:58 am

Defendant Collected $1.6 million from more than 1,100 Distressed Homeowners

LOS ANGELES – An Austin, Texas man was sentenced today in the Western District of Texas for his role in operating a foreclosure-rescue scam in Southern California and elsewhere that charged distressed homeowners fees in exchange for fraudulently delaying foreclosure sales.

Frederic Alan Gladle, 53, was sentenced by Federal District Court Judge Lee Yeakel to 37-months for bankruptcy fraud, and to an additional 24-months for identity theft, for a total sentence of 61 months.
“Foreclosure-rescue scams are intentionally designed to victimize people in extreme financial distress,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr.  “Financial predators like Mr. Gladle need to be held accountable for the harm they cause and today’s sentence does just that, sending the message to scam artists like Mr. Gladle that the final outcome for their criminal schemes is a long stay in federal prison.”

“Mr. Gladle concocted an elaborate fraud scheme to use the financial crisis to his criminal advantage,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “He preyed upon vulnerable homeowners facing foreclosure, just as the housing bubble began to burst, and stood in the way of financial institutions attempting to collect on their debts.  We will continue to pursue scam artists like Mr. Gladle, and ensure that they are held accountable for their crimes.”

“This scheme was particularly insidious in that Mr. Gladle exploited victims who were already in financial straits,” said FBI Assistant Director Steven Martinez of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.  “This sentence should send a message to those contemplating similar fraud targeting vulnerable individuals or the banking system and, in addition, should encourage those trying to salvage their homes to beware of fraudulent rescue offers.”


April 25, 2012


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 10:58 am

SANTA ANA - A mother was sentenced today to eight years in state prison for conspiring with her two daughters and a son-in-law to commit over $16 million in real estate fraud by forging documents and purchasing homes using “straw buyers.” A straw buyer is a person who knowingly and willingly allows their credit to be used for the purchase of a property they never intend to control.

Sushama Devi Lohia, 74, Newport Beach, pleaded guilty to a court offer Dec. 12, 2011, to 12 felony counts of conspiracy to commit a crime, 27 felony counts of forgery, 12 felony count of grand theft, eight felony counts of failure to file, four felony counts of identity theft, four felony counts of recording false and forged instrument, two felony counts of underreporting income and sentencing enhancement allegations for loss over $100,000, property damage over $3.2 million, and aggravated white collar crime over $500,000.

Lohia’s daughter, Supriti Soni, 51, is charged with nine felony counts of conspiracy to commit a crime, 17 felony counts of forgery, one felony count of identity theft, 12 felony counts of grand theft, with sentencing enhancement allegations for loss over $100,000, property damage over $3.2 million, and aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, and a 2003 prison prior for perjury.

Lohia’s other daughter, Suniti Shah, 50, and Suniti Shah’s husband, Dinesh Valjeebhai Shah, 62, are both charged with five felony counts of conspiracy to commit a crime, 13 felony counts of forgery, four felony counts of identity theft, four felony counts of recording false and forged instrument, five felony counts of grand theft, and sentencing enhancement allegations for loss over $100,000, property damage over $1.3 million, and aggravated white collar crime over $500,000.


April 19, 2012

Alleged Welfare Cheat Pleads to Pocketing Dead Man’s Funds

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:06 pm

LOS ANGELES – A Van Nuys man accused of posing as his dead in-home care provider for the purpose of defrauding a public assistance program pleaded guilty today, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy District Attorney Debra Montoya of the Public Assistance Fraud Division said Reginald Ray Peoples, 54, pleaded guilty to 33 felony counts, including grand theft of personal property, presentation of fraudulent claim and forgery.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Horwitz ordered the defendant to return for sentencing on May 31 in Department 50 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. Peoples is expected to be sentenced to 180 days in county jail and three years of formal probation, under the terms of an “open” plea.

An open plea is an agreement reached with the court rather than a settlement negotiated with the District Attorney’s Office.

Peoples was one of 15 criminal defendants with outstanding warrants arrested in a multi-agency “sweep” on Dec. 13, 2011. Peoples, a public assistance recipient enrolled in the state’s In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program for the elderly and disabled, forged his provider’s signature for two years after the man died in order to continue billing IHSS. In all, the defendant cashed almost $20,500 in payments, prosecutors said.

The joint agency sweep – executed by investigators of the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services and the State of California Department of Health Care Services – involved 32 criminal defendants with outstanding warrants accused of collectively pocketing more than a quarter of a million dollars in fraudulent public assistance payments.

April 11, 2012


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:27 am

NEWPORT BEACH - A medical doctor will be arraigned Monday for fraudulently writing Adderall and amphetamine prescriptions for a girlfriend and ex-girlfriend with the intention of using the drugs himself. Brian Michael Swan, 42, Irvine, is charged for the case involving victim Jane Doe #2 with nine felony counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. For the case involving Jane Doe #1, Swan was charged Jan. 18, 2012, with five felony counts each of second degree commercial burglary, fraudulently obtaining a prescription, and unauthorized use of personal information. If convicted on all counts, Swan faces a maximum sentence of 11 years and eight months in state prison. The defendant is out of custody on $25,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned on the new charges Monday, April 9, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. in Department H-1, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.

Jane Doe #1
Six months prior to October 2011, the defendant and his then-live-in girlfriend, Jane Doe #1, split up and the victim moved out. After the couple ended their relationship, Swan is accused of writing 22 Adderall prescriptions for Jane Doe #1 without her knowledge. On five occasions between July 14, 2011, and Oct. 13, 2011, the defendant is accused of going to Sav-on and Target pharmacies to obtain Adderall prescriptions in Jane Doe #1’s name, which he had written.

On Oct. 13, 2011, Swan is accused of attempting to obtain a prescription in Jane Doe #1’s name at a Target pharmacy, but the prescription was denied by the victim’s insurance. The pharmacist contacted Jane Doe #1, who had no knowledge of and had not consented to the prescription. When confronted by the pharmacist, Swan is accused of presenting Jane Doe #1’s stolen driver’s license and then fleeing the scene.

The Irvine Police Department (IPD) investigated this case and learned of a second victim in the course of the investigation.

Jane Doe #2
Swan is accused of beginning to date Jane Doe #2 in September 2011 and she later moved in with the defendant. Between October 2011 and January 2012, Swan is accused of writing nine prescriptions for Jane Doe #2 including Adderall, amphetamine salts, and Vyvanse. Jane Doe #2 used some of the prescriptions, but Swan is accused of prescribing more than Jane Doe #2 would use in order to have extra for himself.

April 5, 2012

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Sentencing for ATM Identity Theft Scam

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 1:20 am

SAN FRANCISCO — Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that Gervork Aroutiounyan, 48, was sentenced for an ATM identity theft scam that spanned seven counties.

Aroutiounyan and Gnel Snapyan, 35, were charged for “skimming” debit card information of Chase Bank customers and stealing $320,728. The Department of Justice eCrime Unit was able to charge the entirety of the scheme across seven counties, including the counties of Santa Clara, Marin, Fresno, San Bernardino, San Diego and Los Angeles.

Aroutiounyan was sentenced today in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court to three years and eight months in state prison, and ordered to pay restitution to Chase Bank of $320,728. The sentencing of Snapyan was delayed until June 15.

“These criminals stole not just money, but people’s identity,” said Attorney General Harris. “While modern technology provides many advantages, it is also increasingly being used by criminals, which is why I created the eCrime unit within the Department of Justice.”

In September 2011, the Attorney General’s office charged the defendants with 28 counts of felony fraud. On March 1, the defendants entered a plea of guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit grand theft, computer access fraud, identity theft, second degree burglary and forgery of access cards. Additionally, each plead guilty to three counts of second degree burglary.

Between July 2010 and February 2011, Aroutiounyan and his co-conspirator replaced the card readers at Chase Bank ATM vestibules. The readers they installed allowed them to retrieve the card information of customers using the ATM. Additionally, the crew installed micro cameras to capture the card holders’ PIN entry. With both the card information and the PIN information, they created bogus ATM access cards. These cards were used to fraudulently withdraw $320,728. This type of crime is frequently referred to as a “skimmer operation.”

April 4, 2012


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 2:32 am

ANTA ANA - The leader of a crime ring was convicted yesterday of stealing thousands of personal identities and counterfeiting credit cards to buy high-end goods to be resold on eBay and Craigslist. Christopher John Aragon, 51, Capistrano Beach, pleaded guilty March 26, 2012, to 50 felony counts including 33 counts of unauthorized use of personal identifying information, 13 counts of grand theft, two counts of counterfeiting access cards, and one count each of conspiracy to commit a crime and the sale or transport of a controlled substance. He also admitted to two sentencing enhancements for property damage over $1 million and aggravated white collar crime over $500,000. Aragon is expected to be sentenced to 25 years in state prison at his sentencing Sept. 28, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-45, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Co-defendants Clara Aragon, 39, Capistrano Beach, Sarah Jean Gunderson, 29, Tustin, Elizabeth Ann Esquer, 34, Irvine, Nancy Diaz Silva, 29, San Juan Capistrano, Guy Itzak Shitrit, 28, Miami, FL, and Federico Vigo, 52, Northridge, pleaded guilty to the court at various times in 2007 to over 80 felony counts each, including conspiracy to commit identity theft, identity theft, burglary, and possession of stolen property. Marcus Phillipe Rojas, 37, Mission Viejo, pleaded guilty in 2007 to 17 felony counts including identity theft, grand theft, burglary, possession of stolen property, possession of drugs for sale, possession of counterfeiting equipment. Their sentences ranged from one year in Orange County Jail with three years of formal probation up to seven years in state prison.

Between March 29, 2004, and April 15, 2007, Christopher Aragon led a crime ring which included his wife Clara Aragon and six co-defendants. Co-defendant Shitrit was a hacker who obtained victims’ credit card numbers used to encode forged credit cards. Christopher Aragon and his co-defendants used credit profiles and personal identifying information of victims to make fraudulent California driver’s licenses, credit cards, and gift cards. The defendants encoded the magnetic strips of the credit and gift cards with stolen account information, and used the cards to purchase high-end merchandise, including designer handbags, jewelry, clothing, and electronics. Christopher Aragon hired a crew of primarily women to make purchases for him. These women traveled throughout California and to Las Vegas to purchase high-end goods. Christopher Aragon and his co-defendants resold the merchandise on eBay and Craigslist. Clara Aragon hired an employee solely to sell stolen goods on eBay.


March 26, 2012

Armenian Power Member and Three Armenian Power Associates Convicted Of Federal Charges For Roles In Identity Theft Ring

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 2:25 am

Last of Four Defendants Convicted by Federal Judge

After a five week trial, a federal judge in Santa Ana, California, yesterday convicted the last of four defendants of bank fraud and identity theft charges based on her part in one of the largest identity theft schemes in California history, with dozens of victims in four states, and millions of dollars in losses.

Kristine Ogandzhanian, 28, of Burbank, CA, was convicted yesterday by United States District Judge David O. Carter of two counts of bank fraud and four counts of aggravated identify theft.

Ogandzhanian and two of her co-defendants waived jury and consented to trial by the judge.  The remaining defendant was simultaneously tried by a jury.  Last Friday, the judge found Ogandzhanian’s two co-defendants guilty, while the jury convicted the other co-defendant.

Artush Margaryan, 28, of Van Nuys, CA, was convicted by jury of one count of bank fraud conspiracy, one count of bank fraud, and three counts of aggravated identity theft.


March 23, 2012

Modesto Developer Arrested in Mortgage Fraud Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 1:51 am

FRESNO, CA—United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced the arrest today of Aruna Kumari Chopra, 63, of Modesto. A federal grand jury returned an indictment against her on March 15, 2012, charging her with two counts of mail fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. The indictment was unsealed following her arrest.

According to the indictment, in 2009, Chopra purchased property at 4754 Dale Road in Modesto. She sought to finance the development of the property by trying to convince the city of Modesto to put into place a Communities Funding District that would issue bonds for infrastructure improvements. She allegedly concealed from the city of Modesto that there were pre-existing liens on the property. She also allegedly provided the City of Modesto with fictitious contracts of potential sales of a fully developed property to support a higher appraisal of the property. The indictment alleges that Chopra attempted to defraud other lenders, including the persons who sold her the property, by filing documents with the Stanislaus County Recorder’s Office that contained forged signatures. She is charged with aggravated identity theft for two instances when she allegedly forged the signature and used the seal of a notary public on a publicly filed document.

This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office; and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, working with the San Joaquin Valley Mortgage Fraud Task Force. The U.S. Attorney and the FBI created the San Joaquin Valley Mortgage Fraud Task Force in 2009 to further the prosecution of mortgage fraud cases arising out of the southern half of the Central Valley. Assistant United States Attorney Mark J. McKeon is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Chopra faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count of mail fraud, and she faces a mandatory penalty of two years in prison on each count of aggravated identity theft, which must run consecutive to any other sentence. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

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