Las Vegas man sentenced in bank fraud scheme


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SAN DIEGO — A Nevada man who headed a sophisticated bank-fraud scheme that used dozens of accounts in the names of fictitious businesses was sentenced in San Diego Monday to 33 months in prison for his role in causing $689,000 in losses to Bank of America.

U.S. Chief District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz handed down the punishment to 34-year-old Vahag Stepanyan of Las Vegas for the defendant’s “brazen” defrauding of a federally insured financial institution and for a separate scheme that resulted in millions of dollars in fraudulent claims for tax refunds.

Moskowitz remarked that Stepanyan “added insult to injury” because he sought to take advantage of the nation that had welcomed him from Armenia.

To facilitate the bank scheme, Stepanyan guided other co-conspirators in creating fictitious business entities that were used to set up accounts at Bank of America.

Stepanyan and other accomplices then engaged in a series of transactions that allowed them to take out recently deposited funds from the accounts before Bank of America learned there were not sufficient funds to cover the withdrawals.

In addition, as a part of a separate scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service, Stepanyan cashed checks drawn on accounts that had received fraudulent tax refunds, according to prosecutors.

At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, Moskowitz remanded Stepanyan into custody to begin serving his sentence.

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