Four members of an Armenian organized crime ring were convicted in one of the largest bank fraud and identity theft schemes in California history.
All four were Armenian Power members or associates who targeted dozens of victims in California, Nevada, Arizona and Texas, according to assistant attorney general Lanny Breuer. Over the course of the six-year conspiracy, more than $10 million was stolen.
Using cellphones smuggled into Avenal State Prison, two of the men coordinated a scheme to obtain Social Security numbers and birth dates and use the information to steal money from the account holders.
The scheme targeted high-value bank accounts, transferred money out of the accounts, had unauthorized checks printed for the accounts and used forged signatures to write checks.
In all, 20 defendants were charged in the sophisticated and lengthy scheme, which involved orders made from within prisons and the assistance of bank insiders who had been enlisted by the criminal organization.