Two Indicted in 20,000-Victim Credit Card Fraud

Sacramento, California - A federal grand jury returned a 23-count indictment Thursday against Mihran Melkonyan, 33, of Sacramento, and Androuslan Akhmerov, 39, of Los Angeles, for wire fraud and mail fraud in a scheme to defraud American Express account holders, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to court documents, Melkonyan and Akhmerov were involved in a scheme to defraud more than 20,000 credit card holders by making false charges on their accounts. To do this, Melkonyan and Akhmerov created fictitious businesses with legitimate sounding names and then charged the victims’ accounts small amounts in the range of $15-30. By using many small charges, the defendants made it less likely that the credit card holders or the credit card companies would discover the fraud.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Secret Service. Assistant United States Attorney Michael D. Anderson is prosecuting the case.

Akhmerov was arrested on March 5, 2014, and is currently released on bail. An initial appearance for him in Sacramento is set for March 27, 2014, at 2:00 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman. Melkonyan remains at large.

If convicted, Melkonyan and Akhmerov face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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