Scammer May Have Fled With Millions of Dollars - KMSP-TV

Scammer May Have Fled With Millions of Dollars of Clients' Money

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(FOX 11/CNS) - The operator of a payroll management company has disappeared, taking his clients' money, possibly $4 million of it, it was reported today.

Some 150 small businesses across Southern California had entrusted LA Payroll to deal with such financial functions as issuing paychecks and W2 forms and handling employment-tax payments, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The firm has now closed its Wilshire Boulevard office. Its clients first realized something was amiss when the IRS and the state sent out late-tax letters, and LA Payroll employees soon confirmed their fears, according to The Times.

The money in their impound accounts was gone.  And so was Tovmas Grigoryan, LA Payroll's owner.

"It is a very awful situation, to say the least. A lot of people got hurt," Babak Dardashti, a Los Angeles dentist, told The Times. "I lost $20,000 myself. For a small business, a chunk like that all at once is not easy to swallow."

People who worked for Grigoryan, 56, told The Times he personally oversaw the tax impound accounts. Clients' individual losses range from hundreds of dollars to more than $350,000, according to police reports, court

records and interviews, The Times reported.Lyuba Kovzhun, a former payroll manager who previously had dealt with the impound accounts, estimated total losses at $4 million, according to The Times.

It was just before Christmas, Kovzhun and other former employees told the newspaper, when the company started receiving notices from the California

Employment Development Department and the Internal Revenue Service that the last six months of payroll taxes owed had never been paid.

That was about the time, they said, that Grigoryan told them he was headed to Palm Springs for the holidays."I have no idea where he is, maybe Russia," his brother, Ruben

Grigoryan, told The Times. "He left about a month ago. We had a merry Christmas together, and he left. He said he had some business in Russia."Another family member told The Times that Grigoryan is in Armenia

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