SAN DIEGO–A leader of a sophisticated bank fraud scheme that used dozens of bank accounts in the names of fictitious businesses was sentenced Tuesday to 33 months in prison for his role in causing $689,000 in losses to Bank of America.
U.S. Chief District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz sentenced 34 year-old Vahag Stepanyan of Las Vegas, Nevada, to almost three years in custody based on the defendant’s “brazen” scheme to defraud a federally insured financial institution, as well as for his participation in a separate tax fraud scheme that resulted in millions of dollars in fraudulent claims for tax refunds.
As a part of the bank fraud scheme, Stepanyan guided other co-conspirators in the creation of fictitious business entities in Nevada that were used to set up accounts at Bank of America. Stepanyan and other co-conspirators then engaged in a series of bank transactions that allowed co-conspirators to withdraw recently deposited funds from the bank accounts before Bank of America learned that the accounts did not have sufficient funds to cover the withdrawals.
In addition, as a part of a separate scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service, Stepanyan cashed checks drawn on accounts that had received fraudulent tax refunds. At the sentencing hearing, Judge Moskowitz remarked that Stepanyan’s participation in a scheme to defraud the United States “added insult to injury” because he sought to take advantage of the nation that had welcomed him from Armenia.
At the conclusion of today’s sentencing hearing, Judge Moskowitz remanded Stepanyan into custody to begin serving his 33-month sentence.