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Where the Heck is She?

Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

There’s nothing more interesting than reading about fraudsters on the run. (They always think they can avoid the long arm of the law.) Tamara Dadyan, 42, of Los Angeles, Calif., and seven cronies stole $18 million in COVID-19 relief loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Dadyan was supposed to report to prison in January to serve a 10-year sentence, but she never showed up. (And that’s why you’re reading about this fugitive today.)

Dadyan was a member of a fraud ring that used fake identities to submit 150 COVID-19 relief loans. The scam victimized elderly and disabled individuals, deceased people, and foreign exchange students. Co-conspirators used the $18 million they received to put down payments on luxury homes in Tarzana, Glendale and Palm Desert, and to buy high-end items including gold coins, diamonds, jewelry, luxury watches, imported furnishings, designer handbags, clothing, and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. (Wow, we should all be so lucky to use taxpayer dollars to fund such a lavish lifestyle.)

Back to being on the lam, Dadyan is not the only co-conspirator that disappeared into thin air. Richard Ayvazyan (the leader of this scam and brother-in-law to Dadyan) and his wife Marietta Terabelian disappeared while also awaiting sentencing. Family members of the San Fernando Valley couple contend that the pair was abducted, (by who, aliens?) but the FBI believes they cut off their tracking bracelets. (That is a more likely story.)

By running, Ayvazyan and his wife have temporarily avoided a 17-year prison sentence and a six-year prison sentence, respectively. Dadyan’s husband was the only family member that actually reported to prison in Los Angeles to serve a five-year prison term. (I guess he didn’t get the memo on the “run for your life” escape plan.)

Dadyan, a former Los Angeles real estate broker, admitted her involvement in the COVID-19 fraud scheme by pleading guilty to 23 counts of fraud. Prosecutors believed that the Californian was a flight risk and wanted the judge to immediately put her in custody, but the judge allowed for her release. (Hind sight is 20-20.)

Dadyan visited her lawyer’s office before she was due to report to prison. It is intriguing to note that no one, not even her lawyer knew of her whereabouts. “I don’t know where the heck she is,” Joseph Benincasa explained when the Federal Government gave him a call. (Not exactly the answer the government wanted to hear, I’m sure.) Benincassa presumed she was wearing her ankle bracelet while visiting, but he confessed he didn’t check. (Well, you can bet he’ll do so from now on.)

As you know, the downfall of every criminal is imminent, and this case is no different. On February 23, 2022, the three fugitives were caught in Montenegro, a small mountainous country in southeastern Europe. The FBI has begun the process of returning the three back to the U.S. (Hopefully, someone will be keeping an eye on their ankle monitors this time around.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a NBC News article, New twist in Covid relief fraud case: Third fraudster is on the run,” dated February 3, 2022.

A third member of a California fraud ring accused of stealing more than $18 million in Covid-19 relief loans has gone on the run, the FBI said Thursday.

Tamara Dadyan, 42, was supposed to report to prison Jan. 28 to start serving a 10-year sentence, but she never showed up, and her whereabouts are unknown.

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