A Californian man has been sentenced to 8 years in prison and ordered to pay $ $1,557,979 in restitution for operating a scam that targeted trademark owners. Artashes Darbinyan, 37, of Glendale fraudulently received $1.66 million from trademark owners through mail fraud. According to investigators, Artashes was working with a co-conspirator named Tagubyan who was a former manager at wells fargo's Glendale branch.

How Artashes committed the crime

According to the U.S justice department, Artashes had earlier admitted that he ran a mail scam using the names Trademark Compliance Office (TCO) and Trademark Compliance Center (TCC) from September 2013 to September 2015.

He used these names to target small businesses that recently applied for the protection of their trademarks. Through the false names, Artashes promised to register the trademarks of these firms with U.S. Customs and Border Protection which screens goods from other countries for trademark infringements. He also promised to check the applicant’s trademark for violation marks. He offered his services through the mail for a cost of $385. He admitted in court that he never provided these services after the victims paid him the $385 fee.

To conceal himself from the scam while receiving payment from victims, Artashes used other people's identities to open accounts at virtual office centers. He and others also opened Wells Fargo Bank Accounts using the same false names. He also used money orders, fake email accounts and regularly changed his phone number to avoid being traced.

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Other co-conspirators

According to the U.S justice department, two other co-conspirators were also sentenced after pleading guilty. Orbel Hakobyan, 42, of Glendale received a two-year sentence and ordered to pay restitution worth $1,218,024. Albert Yagubyan, 37, of Burbank, California received a one and a half year jail sentence and ordered to pay restitution worth $1,048,069.

Hakobyan admitted that he opened bank accounts using false names of people in Eastern Europe to deposit victims checks. Yagubyan as a manager at Wells Fargo influenced his subordinates to open fraudulent bank accounts to receive victims funds. He then withdrew the funds using checks and through cash withdrawals and purchased gold. He also admitted helping Artashes launder $1.29 million of proceeds from victims. According to court evidence, Darbinyan paid Yagubyan a percentage of the victim's funds once the funds were successfully laundered to entice him to continue facilitating the fraudulent transactions.

A total of 4,446 victims were scammed $1.66 million.

Watch a video below of how the scam is committed.