- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 8, 2018

Three individuals were indicted for their role in a scheme to defraud Armenian citizens by selling them phony visas, the Department of Justice has announced.

Stella Boyadjian, 47, of Rego Park, New York; Hrachya Atoyan, 30, of Glendale, California and Diana Grigoryan, 41, of Armenia were charged in the Eastern District of New York in a 15-count indictment. The defendants face multiple counts of visa fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and illegally bringing clients into the United States. Ms. Boyadjian faces additional charges of charges money laundering and identity theft while Ms. Grigoryan faces additional money laundering charges.

Ms. Boyadjian sought to bring Armenian citizens into the United States by claiming they were members of folk performance groups and thus qualified for “Culturally Unique Artist,” or P-3 visas. The P-3 visas allow foreign nationals to temporarily travel to the United States to perform, teach or coach as artists and entertainer.

As part of the scheme Ms. Boyadjian operated a non-profit organization called Big Apple Music Awards Foundation. Ms. Boyadjian would charge Armenian citizens between $3,000 and $15,000 for fraudulent performer certificates, the Justice Department said. She also staged photo sessions where the Armenians wore traditional folk outfits to appear as performers and coached the aliens on how to pass U.S. visa interviews.

Once the Armenians were in the United States, some paid Ms. Boyadjian additional funds to be included in fraudulent petitions asking for P-3 extensions, according to court documents. Some of the Armenians are alleged to have overstayed their visas and remain unlawfully in the United States.

“As alleged in the indictment, the defendants choreographed their fraud scheme by dressing visa applicants in traditional dance costumes and creating fake concert flyers in order to deceive a government program that allows foreign nationals to temporarily enter the United States as artistic performers,” U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue. “As a result of outstanding investigative work and commitment to protecting the integrity of the immigration process by this Office and our law enforcement partners, the defendants will now face the music for their alleged crimes.”

This case is the result of a joint investigation by the DSS’s Criminal Fraud Investigations and Overseas Criminal Investigations Divisions with assistance from the USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security, Center Fraud Detection Operations in Vermont.

Trial Attorney Sasha N. Rutizer of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gopstein of the Eastern District of New York are prosecuting the case.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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