Three indicted in million-dollar broker scheme

| 9/14/2009

Three California relatives have been indicted on several charges after federal prosecutors say they created an identity on FMCSA’s SAFER Web site to double broker trucking loads, collect payment, and leave trucking companies unpaid.

According to federal court documents, a man and his two sons created two shell companies that showed up on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Safety and Fitness Electronic Records System, or SAFER.

Rubik Avetyan, Allen Avetyan and Alfred Avetyan are each indicted on 40 criminal counts, including charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy.

The three men made more than $1 million by double brokering without paying carriers that hauled their freight and by removing some freight from loads.

To conduct the scheme, prosecutors allege the three men set up several telephone lines out of Pennsylvania, and used a fake California CDL to open up mailbox accounts at multiple mail businesses.

The men would enter into contracts with shippers and double broker the loads through their own broker and carrier shell companies, and then through an unsuspecting company. The men collected shipping payments, but didn’t pay carriers that actually hauled the loads. They also apparently stole goods from several shipments.

The men also used a credit card not in their name to pay the $300 necessary to obtain carrier authority.

According to court documents, the Avetyans arranged for double brokering of loads from Patron Spirits in Las Vegas to a receiver in Richmond VA. Rubik Avetyan, however, personally brought the load to Hesperia, CA. The load was later taken by a driver from a different carrier.

In that shipment and several other Patron shipments, drivers from carriers that the Avetyan’s arranged to double broker with noticed the truck’s weight being far lighter than the freight’s weight listed on bills of lading.

When one driver asked Rubik Avetyan about the significant weight difference, court documents state the driver was “told to rush the load to the destination and disregard the weight of the shipment.”

One receiver noticed that the load of liquor was missing 665 cases of alcoholic beverages, and another was missing 781 cases.

Alfred Avetyan told one truck driver to avoid having the trailer weighed “because it was a light load and they wanted him to quickly deliver it to the destination.”

After a different driver was found to be missing more than 800 cases of alcoholic beverages during an inspection by an Arkansas Highway Police officer, Alfred Avetyan told the driver the rest of the shipment was coming on a different truck.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer