California Men Plead Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud
CONCORD (STL.News) Vahan Aghajanyan, 25, of Glendale, California, and Garnik Saroyan, 26 of Sun Valley, California, pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, Acting United States Attorney John J. Farley announced today.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in October of 2018, Aghajanyan and Saroyan traveled from California to New Hampshire and Maine to use fraudulent debit cards encoded with other persons’ bank account information to make ATM withdrawals and purchase postal money orders. On October 31, 2018, postal employees in New Hampshire and Maine reported suspicious transactions involving the two men. The York, Maine police department located and stopped their vehicle. Three cell phones were seized from the men and a federal search warrant was sought to search the phones. A search of the phones revealed a map of post office locations in New Hampshire and photographs of Aghajanyan holding stacks of cash and postal money orders.
Bank records and surveillance videos showed that, on at least 15 occasions, Aghajanyan or Saroyan used a fraudulent debit card to check the balance of a bank account at an ATM. Subsequently, the card was used to purchase a postal money order at a post office in New Hampshire. Records confirm that between October 25, 2018, and October 31, 2018, the two men withdrew at least $2,673 from other persons’ bank accounts and purchased at least 35 postal money orders worth more than $22,000 using fraudulent debit cards.
Aghajanyan and Saroyan are scheduled to be sentenced on June 24, 2021.
“As this case shows, fraudsters may use sophisticated schemes, including fraudulent debit cards, to steal money from innocent victims,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Farley. “This criminal conduct can impact victims in many ways and will not be tolerated. I want to thank the law enforcement officers whose work put a stop to this fraud scheme before it could impact more victims.”
This matter was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service with assistance from the York, Maine, Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew T. Hunter.