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LOS ANGELES — A California man who fraudulently obtained almost $3 million in COVID-19 business loans and jobless benefits has been sentenced to 63 months in federal prison, the Justice Department announced June 7.

Arman Grigoryan, 42, was sentenced late in the afternoon June 6 by U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee, who also ordered him to pay $2,880,259 in restitution.

“When confronted with the COVID pandemic that has claimed the lives of almost 7 million persons worldwide to date, [Grigoryan] instead saw an opportunity to bilk taxpayers out of the emergency funds their government generously made available to ameliorate job losses,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “Such criminal opportunism during a global health and economic emergency is egregious.”

Grigoryan pleaded guilty in October 2021 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. He has been in federal custody since July 2022 after a court determined he had violated the terms of his pretrial release.

During 2020 and continuing through late September of that year, Grigoryan and used other people’s identities to apply for unemployment insurance benefits through California’s Employment Development Department (EDD). Once the EDD approved the false and fraudulent unemployment insurance applications, a bank issued to Grigoryan and his accomplices debit cards containing the funds intended for the false identities. Grigoryan and others then used the fraudulently obtained debit cards to withdraw cash.

Grigoryan and others also used other people’s identities and shell companies to apply for loans intended to help businesses weather the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. They did so by submitting falsified payroll information and attaching forged tax forms as support.

Once the banks approved the business loans, Grigoryan and his accomplices rapidly withdrew the COVID business relief funds by writing checks to co-conspirators and shell companies, and by withdrawing the funds in cash.

In total, Grigoryan caused at least $2,880,259 in actual losses through the conspiracy.

Homeland Security Investigations’ El Camino Real Financial Crimes Task Force investigated the case in conjunction with the Small Business Administration’s Office of the Inspector General and the California Employment Development Department.

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