A California woman who fled to Europe to avoid being sent to prison for defrauding COVID-19 relief funds has been extradited to the United States.
43-year old Tamara Dadyan of Encino spent a year as a fugitive in Montenegro, which is east from Italy over the Adriatic Sea. She arrived in Los Angeles on February 27 and appeared before the District Court on the very next day.
LA Fraud Ring Exploit COVID-19 Loans
Court documents describe Dadyan as a member of a fraud ring based out of Los Angeles. Together with Richard Ayvazyan and Marietta Terabelian, the gang concocted a scheme to fraudulently apply for and receive over $20 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds.
Dadyan and her co-conspirators used dozens of fake and stolen identities to obtain the funds, which included identities belonging to deceased people and the elderly, as well as the names of foreign exchange students whose only connection to the United States was a brief visit years before the pandemic even happened.
In total, the LA fraud ring submitted around 150 fraudulent applications for PPP and EIDL loans. They used their ill-gotten gains to pay for three luxury homes and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, as well as buying the likes of gold coins, diamonds, designer handbags and cryptocurrency.
Fraudster Fled Ten-Year Sentence
A statement on the Department of Justice website described the events that led to Dadyan’s escape: “In June 2021, Dadyan pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and one count of aggravated identity theft. She was sentenced in December 2021 to 10 years and 10 months in prison.”
Dadyan then fled the United States in January 2022.
Getting the Gang Back Together
The Justice Department also explained that U.S. authorities discovered Dadyan had fled to Montenegro to join her co-conspirators who had also fled from lengthy prison sentences. Both Ayvazyan and Terabelian were extradited back to the United States in November 2022.
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