Attorney General Jeff Sessions should be saluted for inspiring renewed vigor in the US Department of Justice. This week, the DOJ has once again protected the American people by exposing a massive Internet scam.
On Monday, the Justice Department announced the conviction of a California man named Artashes Darbinyan, 37, for running a multi-year scam worth $1.66 million. According to a press release, Darbinyan has been sentenced to 96 months in prison and had a $1,557,979 fine levied against him. Accomplices named Orbel Hakobyan and Albert Yagubyan also received 24 months and 18 months in prison, respectively.
Darbinyan admitted that between September 2013 and September 2015, he operated two shell companies called Trademark Compliance Center (TCC) and Trademark Compliance Office (TCO). These two companies targeted small businesses that had recently applied for trademarks with the US Patent & Trademark Office.
Using a mass mailing scam, Darbinyan and his associates would falsely offer targeted businesses the chance to track their applications and trademarks. TCC and TCO claimed that they were in communication with US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) and had the capability to track copyright infringements.
These fraudulent solicitations usually asked for a fee of $385 dollars for copyright protection services.
This scheme was part of a wider web of mail fraud and intellectual property theft. Back in 2005, copyright fraud and Internet piracy cost the American economy as much as $200 billion. Fast forward 10 years later, unlicensed software in the United States still cost the economy $9.1 billion.
One of the most egregious offenders when it comes to copyright theft is the communist country of China. America loses $600 billion a year in intellectual property theft cases, a majority of which emanate from China.
Sessions and President Trump have zeroed in on this illegal network, and a recent memorandum signed by the president will open up a federal investigation into China’s involvement in intellectual property theft.
The goal of this investigation is to not only curtail such illegal practices, but to also save those American jobs and American businesses that are harmed by intellectual property theft overseas.
One of the more disturbing facts about the DOJ’s successful case against the Darbinyan ring is that the criminals deliberately targeted small businesses, which are more vulnerable to fraud. In 2014, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ (ACFE) found that American businesses lose on average a median of five-percent of their annual revenue to fraud.
Three years before, 40 percent of all small businesses in America reported that they had been the victims of fraud. This is obviously a serious problem in the United States.
Although not specifically mentioned in the DOJ’s press release, it is worth mentioning that all of the offenders, in this case, are of Armenian extraction. The Southern California-based street gang Armenian Power have a history of running fraudulent scams, participating in racketeering, and extortion.
Other street gangs, from MS-13 to the Crips, have branched out into the worlds of bank and mail fraud, as well as identity theft. Attorney General Sessions should seriously consider using the power of the Federal government to investigate the fraudulent activities of these organizations.
The American population needs better protection from such conspiracies to rob them blind.