COVID-19 Fraud and Auto Title Theft Land Granada Hills Man 17.5-Year Sentence


United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton sentenced Eduard Gasparyan, 38, from Granada Hills, to 210 months in federal prison for leading a scheme that fraudulently obtained over $1.5 million in COVID-19 unemployment benefits and stole dozens of car titles. Judge Staton also ordered Gasparyan to pay $2,232,767 in restitution.

In February 2023, Gasparyan pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, covering both the unemployment benefits scam and the car title thefts.

Scheme Details

Gasparyan, alongside his then-fiancée Angela Karchyan, exploited stolen identities to file for unemployment insurance benefits through the California Employment Development Department (EDD) and manipulated documents to unlawfully claim ownership of numerous vehicles. This fraudulent activity spanned from early 2020 to September 2022.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Exploitation

The duo capitalized on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provisions, introduced by Congress to aid self-employed workers and others during the COVID-19 pandemic, by submitting false applications for unemployment insurance benefits.

Withdrawal of Fraudulent Funds

Surveillance footage captured Gasparyan withdrawing $4,500 using nine debit cards at a bank ATM within minutes on August 23, 2021. The cards were registered under various names, including Gasparyan’s and those of other identity theft victims.

Fraudulent Benefits and Vehicle Purchases

Court documents reveal that EDD disbursed approximately $544,089 in fraudulent jobless benefits to a Van Nuys address and around $307,012 to a Granada Hills address, both linked to Gasparyan. Additionally, Gasparyan and Karchyan engaged in purchasing vehicles with bad checks or bank account numbers and manipulated DMV records using forged documents.

Prosecutors highlighted the extensive harm caused by Gasparyan’s actions, emphasizing the impact on taxpayers, the individuals whose identities were stolen, and the legitimate owners of the stolen vehicles.

Co-conspirator’s Sentence

Angela Karchyan, also pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, received a 41-month prison sentence and shares the restitution obligation with Gasparyan.

Investigation and Prosecution

The United States Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General, the California Employment Development Department – Criminal Investigations, and the Orange County Auto Theft Task Force investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Brown led the prosecution.

This sentencing underscores the severe legal consequences of engaging in fraud, especially schemes exploiting pandemic relief efforts and the theft of property. The case serves as a stark reminder of the justice system’s commitment to prosecuting and penalizing such fraudulent activities.

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