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Local man accused in gold scam

Glendale resident allegedly stole $141,000 so he could purchase coins.

August 28, 2013|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

A Glendale man accused of stealing about $141,000 from the bank account of a Sacramento man so he could buy 96 gold coins pleaded not guilty Friday to federal fraud charges.

Karapet Damaryan, 63, and his co-defendant, Garik Voskanyan, 30, of Rancho Cordova, were charged with one count each of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft for the scheme, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney’s office in Sacramento.

Damaryan reportedly posed as the Sacramento man in May to gain access to the victim’s bank account and to wire $141,395 to Placerville Coin and Bullion to purchase the gold, according to the two-count indictment.

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However, the coin store owner didn’t immediately turn over the gold to Damaryan and asked him to return the following day because he “felt something was not right,” according to a U.S. District Court criminal complaint.

Placerville County Sheriff’s detectives contacted the owner and then monitored Damaryan inside the store.

The next day, detectives quickly spotted Damaryan and Voskanyan driving around the area, which they appeared to be scanning for police, according to court documents.

Detectives decided they could no longer wait, so they stopped the pair and arrested them.

Damaryan was reportedly carrying a book bag that contained several pieces of paper bearing the victim’s signature and a fake driver’s license containing the victim’s information. The maiden name of the man’s mother was written on another piece of paper, according to court documents.

Authorities said Damaryan appeared to be shopping around the area for 100 gold coins.

He allegedly expressed interest in procuring 100 American Gold Eagle coins, which are valued at $1,450 each, from another currency store, according to court documents.

The store owner told authorities that Damaryan was “very educated about gold and the coin business.”

Damaryan reportedly told another store owner that he was cashing in his 401(k) retirement money.

The victim reportedly noticed the money had been withdrawn from his account while attempting to transfer funds to pay for a home he and his wife were preparing to purchase.

He later learned that Damaryan also changed a phone number and email account associated with his account. Damaryan used the victim’s mother’s maiden name as proof of his identity, according to court documents.

Damaryan bonded out of custody last week and was ordered to turn over his passport.

He and Voskanyan are scheduled to appear Oct. 17 for a status conference.

If the pair are convicted of bank fraud, they face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million.

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Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.

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