LOS ANGELES – On February 9, 2023, Eduard Gasparyan, 38, a.k.a. “Rudy Pineda” and “Papin Galstyan,” of Granada Hills, was sentenced to 17 and a half years in federal prison for using stolen identities to fraudulently obtain more than $1,568,000 in COVID-19 pandemic-related unemployment benefits, and for stealing title to dozens of cars by presenting forged documents to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Gasparyan was also ordered to pay $2,232,767 in restitution.
Gasparyan pleaded guilty in February 2023 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, from at least 2020 to September 2022, Gasparyan and his then-fiancée, Angela Karchyan, 39, of Granada Hills, stole the identities of victims and used them to apply for unemployment insurance benefits from the California Employment Development Department (EDD), which administers the state’s unemployment insurance program.
After the bogus unemployment insurance benefits applications were approved, Gasparyan and Karchyan used debit cards containing the fraudulently obtained benefits to withdraw cash at ATMs.
For example, on August 23, 2021, Gasparyan was filmed via surveillance camera at a bank ATM withdrawing $4,500 from nine debit cards within a 7-minute span. Three of the debit cards were issued in Gasparyan’s name while the other six debit cards were in the names of other individuals, court documents state.
From February 2020 to August 2022, EDD paid out approximately $544,089 in fraudulently obtained jobless benefits on at least 32 claims using the same address in Van Nuys that Gasparyan used as a mailing address, according to court documents. During that same time, EDD paid out approximately $307,012 in jobless benefits on at least 16 claims to a Granada Hills address linked to Gasparyan.
Gasparyan and Karchyan purchased vehicles using their own names as well as the names of identity theft victims but provided the sellers with worthless checks or bank account numbers to purportedly pay for the vehicles.
Gasparyan and his co-conspirators also used stolen identities to rent vehicles and then caused the DMV to remove the true owners – rental car companies – from the registration for those vehicles by using forged documents.
Karchyan pleaded guilty in February 2023 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. She is serving a 41-month prison sentence and was ordered to pay $2,232,767 in restitution.
This case was investigated by the:
- The United States Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General,
- California Employment Development Department – Criminal Investigations,
- and the Orange County Auto Theft Task Force.