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Encino Couple On The Run After Being Convicted In $18M COVID Relief Fraud Scheme

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – An Encino couple convicted in an $18 million COVID-19 relief fraud case earlier this summer have cut off their ankle monitoring bracelets and gone on the lam, the FBI reported late Tuesday night.

Encino Couple On The Run After Being Convicted In $18M COVID Relief Fraud Scheme
Undated photos of 43-year-old Richard Ayvazyas and his wife, 37-year-old Marietta Terabelian of Encino, Calif., who have disappeared after being convicted in a federal COVID-19 relief fraud case. (FBI)

Back in June, 43-year-old Richard Ayvazyan, his wife, 37-year-old Marietta Terabelian, and two other family members were found guilty of fraudulently obtaining more than $18 million in Paycheck Protection and Economic Injury Disaster Loan program funds.

They used the money to put down payments on luxury homes in Tarzana, Glendale and Palm Desert and purchase jewelry and other high-end items.

They were scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 4 in Los Angeles federal court.

In a tweet late Tuesday, the FBI said the couple cut their monitoring bracelets and are considered fugitives. The couple have been missing since Sunday. Their whereabouts are unknown.

Evidence showed the defendants used bogus or stolen identities to submit fraudulent applications for the loans. In support of the applications, the defendants also submitted sham documents to lenders and the Small Business Administration, including fake identity documents, tax documents and payroll records.

"They applied for approximately 150 loans in which they were seeking $21 million, and $18 million was dispersed as a result of those fraudulent applications," said Richard Alexander Wednesday, an FBI Los Angeles supervisory special agent.

The couple used the fraudulently obtained funds as down payments on luxury homes and to buy gold coins, diamonds, jewelry, luxury watches, imported furnishings, designer handbags, clothing and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

"They're not as smart as they think they are," said Neil Margolin, a neighbor. "They wouldn't have been caught in the first place."

"The federal government will find them and catch them and put them in prison," Margolin added.

The FBI asks that anyone who has information on the couple to call 310-477-6565.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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