Glendale Wells Fargo branch manager convicted of money laundering
A May 22 sentencing date has been set for a former manager of a Wells Fargo branch in Glendale who laundered money linked to a $1.6 million mass-mailing scam targeting trademark applicants.
Albert Yagubyan, 37, of Burbank was convicted Friday of federal charges of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, money laundering and false bank entries, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The scam operated from 2013 to 2015 when scheme mastermind Artashes Darbinyan, using mass mailings from bogus companies called the Trademark Compliance Office and the Trademark Compliance Center, offered trademark registration and monitoring services to trademark holders who had recently registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
For a $385 fee, the companies promised to monitor for possible infringement and send reports to the client. Instead, Darbinyan opened bogus accounts, in which he and co-defendant Orbel Hakobyan deposited or cashed checks sent by the trademark holders.
Yagubyan laundered the funds by instructing subordinates at the bank to open bogus accounts, into which proceeds of the TCC and TCO scam were deposited, and process fraudulent withdrawals, wire transfers and cashier’s checks for co-conspirators Darbinyan and Hakobyan.
The cashier’s checks and wire transfers were made out to gold dealers. The bank accounts were opened using the identities of individuals from Eastern Europe who were not in the United States at the time the accounts were opened.
Evidence further showed that Darbinyan paid Yagubyan a percentage of the laundered proceeds. Yagubyan, in turn, made payments and promises of promotion to subordinates to induce them to conduct the fraudulent transactions.
When Wells Fargo’s loss prevention office flagged the bogus accounts for closure, Yagubyan intervened to try and keep them open, evidence showed.
Darbinyan, 37, and Hakobyan, 42, both of Glendale, pleaded guilty in December to mail fraud and money laundering charges and are scheduled for sentencing in Los Angeles on June 19.
–City News Service