LAWFUEL – The US Law Newswire – A Los Angeles-area man who allegedly defrauded more than 50 victims out of more than $1.2 million has been extradited from Romania to the United States to face wire fraud charges.
Raffi Arshak Donoyan, 49, who allegedly bilked Spanish-speaking victims by placing advertisements in the La Opinion newspaper, is accused of soliciting investments in bogus clothing companies.
Donoyan, who was indicted in March on 10 counts of mail fraud, is expected to make his initial court appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles. Donoyan, who is believed to have fled the United States in October 2006, was arrested in Romania in March after special agents with the FBI determined he was in that country. Donoyan was extradited to the U.S. late Friday.
According to the indictment and a criminal complaint filed last year, Donoyan formed companies called American Modeling Agency, A.M.A. Inc. & OOPS CO., and A.M.A. Attitude Fashion and Modeling Agency Inc. Donoyan and employees under his control induced victims to invest in what he falsely represented was his successful clothing business. Although some investors received interest payments on their investments, there was no actual clothing business or profits, and the interest payments came from money invested by other victims.
In April 2006, Donoyan hired employees, claiming to own numerous manufacturing companies in Europe, which sold his clothing to major retailers in the United States, including K-mart, Nordstrom and Macy’s. Around the same time, Donoyan placed an advertisement in La Opinion to solicit investors. Investors were offered high rates of interest — ranging from 8 percent to 20 percent — for loan terms ranging from one month to six months, the indictment states.
By October 2006, the scheme had collapsed, but not before Donoyan was able to bilk approximately 54 victims, who lost more than $1.27 million.
Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum possible penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
Donoyan also faces bank fraud charges in another indictment that accuses him and his son of defrauding Wells Fargo Bank, Washington Mutual Bank and Citibank in a check-kiting scheme. The son, Archie Raffi Donoyan, 29, of Northridge, pleaded guilty last month to one count of bank fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced in October.
This Ponzi scheme was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Los Angeles Police Department, Commercial Crimes Division. The FBI Legal Attache in Bucharest, Hungary provided substantial assistance during the extradition process.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Ellyn M. Lindsay