Ex-Wells Fargo manager pleads guilty to aiding $14 million identity theft scheme

 In blog, Crime News: Los Angeles Daily News

Ex-Wells Fargo manager pleads guilty to aiding $14 million identity theft scheme

by Eric Licas

The former manager of a Wells Fargo branch in Glendale accused of unfreezing suspicious accounts tied to a $14 million scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service pleaded guilty on Monday, August 5.

Hakop Zakaryan, 34, of Glendale, admitted to one count of felony bank fraud as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, officials from the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement. He was accused of lying to his company’s loss prevention department in order to give clients suspected of fraud access to their accounts, which had been flagged for suspicious activity.

The defendant allegedly knew that those bank customers were using phony identities, and was paid thousands of dollars in cash to lift restrictions on their accounts, officials said. In one instance, fraudsters managed to withdraw $29,453 from a suspicious account after Zakaryan was paid $3,000 to help unfreeze it.

The accounts were opened using fake Armenian passports, and part of a scheme to launder about $14 million in federal tax returns that were fraudulently obtained from the IRS, prosecutors said. Zakaryan and 17 other defendants were charged in connection with the operation, which involved over 7,000 bogus claims filed under stolen identities. The claims sought roughly $38 million from the government. As of Monday, 12 people had been convicted for taking part in the scheme.

The charge filed against Zakaryan carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison. He is scheduled to appear for a sentencing agreement on Monday, November 18.

All credit goes to Eric Licas Originally published on https://www.dailynews.com

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