The Justice Department announced Friday that a California couple convicted of committing $20 million in COVID-19 relief fraud has been extradited back to the United States.
Richard Ayvazyan, 44, and Marietta Terabelian, 38, were convicted by a federal jury in June 2021 of “leading a conspiracy to fraudulently obtain over $20 million in COVID-19 relief funds,” per the Justice Department.
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The couple fled the U.S. to Montenegro shortly after the trial, but they have now been extradited back.
Ayvazyan was sentenced to 17 years in prison, and Terabelian was sentenced to six years in prison for committing fraud, mainly through the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
Both used “dozens of fake, stolen, or synthetic identities” to submit applications for 150 loans through the two programs intended for COVID-19 relief.
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Fraudsters are estimated to have stolen as much as $80 billion of the $800 billion from the Paycheck Protection Program, per a report from NBC News.