The FBI on Thursday arrested seven Valley residents for their alleged participation in a money laundering operation that obtained more than $30 million through fraudulent tax returns and other schemes.

Defendants include Gagik Airapetian of Woodland Hills; Tigran Galstyan of Sylmar; Moses Seraydarian of Northridge; Stepan Terakopyan of Granada Hills; Petros Terakopyan of Sun Valley; Karen Pogosian of Van Nuys; and Haroutioun Demirdjian of North Hollywood.


The FBI’s indictment alleges the leader of the schemes, Gagik Airapetian, directed the other conspirators to open bank accounts and rent mailboxes using fabricated Republic of Armenia passports. The accounts were allegedly used to launder funds obtained from about 7,000 fraudulent tax returns filed using stolen taxpayer identities as well as similarly structured health care scams.


Some defendants allegedly bribed bank managers to unfreeze bank accounts that had been frozen due to suspected fraud, and even bribed attorneys to use attorney-client trust accounts to launder tax fraud proceeds. Glendale lawyer Arthur Charchian previously pleaded guilty to a count of money laundering in connection with the scheme.


If convicted of all charges, ringleader Airapetian could face a maximum sentence of more than 400 years in federal prison. The other defendants face maximum sentences of more than 100 years of imprisonment.


The arrests are part of a multi-agency investigation into a wider Stolen Identity Refund Fraud, or SIRF, scheme. So far, the investigation has charged 35 defendants in connection with the operation. It has resulted in 15 convictions and the seizure of five houses and more than $700,000 from bank accounts.