Three California men including the former manager of a Wells Fargo branch in Glendale were sentenced to prison Monday for running a mass mailing scam aimed at trademark holders.
Albert Yagubyan, 37, of Burbank, California, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $1 million in restitution.
He was convicted by a federal jury in Los Angeles in March this year of one count of conspiracy to launder money, four counts of concealment money laundering, and one count of false bank entries.
Two others pleaded guilty in the scam.
Artashes Darbinyan, 37, of Glendale, was sentenced to 96 months in prison and ordered to pay about $1.6 million in restitution.
Orbel Hakobyan, 42, of Glendale, was sentenced to 24 months in prison and ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution.
The trademark scam defrauded 4,446 victims of $1.66 million.
From 2013 through 2015, the three ran the scam under the names Trademark Compliance Center (TCC) and Trademark Compliance Office (TCO).
Led by Darbinyan, they used mass emails to target small businesses that had recently applied for trademark protection with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
TCC and TCO promised to monitor an applicant’s trademark for infringing marks and to register the trademark with U.S. Customs and Border Protection or CBP.
CBP offers a real service that screens imports for possibly infringing trademarks.
The phony services were offered for $385.
Darbinyan never monitored or registered any of the trademarks with CBP.
Yagubyan laundered $1.29 million from the scam. He ordered subordinates at his bank to open bogus accounts using the identities of individuals from Eastern Europe who were not in the United States.
Yagubyan used the phony identities to deposit the money. He then ordered withdrawals, wire transfers, and cashier’s checks payable to gold dealers. He gave the gold and cash to Darbinyan and Hakobyan.
Darbinyan paid Yagubyan a percentage of the laundered proceeds.
Yagubyan promised subordinates at the Wells Fargo branch they would be promoted if they helped with the fraudulent transactions.
Darbinyan pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. Hakobyan pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.