SAN FERNANDO (CNS) — Arraignment was postponed to March 26 for two men facing 40 felony grand theft auto charges stemming from an alleged San Fernando Valley-centered scam targeting buyers of high-end cars like Bentleys and Maseratis that robbed victims of nearly $4 million.
Arman Mave Hazarian, also known as Dean Hazarian, of Tarzana, and Afshin Hashemi, also known as Al Hashemi, of Hollywood, also face six additional felony counts of grand theft. The charges include allegations of taking more than $500,000 through fraud and embezzlement and property valued at more than $3.2 million.
Bail was set at $3.8 million for both men, who were ordered to return to court on March 26. If convicted as charged, they face maximum sentences of more than 15 years in prison.
Hazarian and Hashemi, both 47, allegedly used online ads to persuade investors to lease or buy expensive cars and turn them over to the defendants to be subleased at a profit, according to Deputy District Attorney Alex Karkanen of the Automobile Insurance Fraud Division of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.
Instead, the men allegedly sold the cars to unsuspecting buyers and kept the cash, leaving the victims paying a lease for cars they didn’t own or out the cash used for purchases.
The scheme involved the loss of more than 40 vehicles, including Bentley, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Rolls Royce, Jaguar and Lexus models, prosecutors allege. Some of the victims allegedly provided multiple cars to the defendants, resulting in individual losses of up to $750,000, Karkanen said.
The scammers also defrauded the secondary buyers by never signing over titles to the vehicles, he alleged.
The alleged scam was operated from August 2017 to February, according to the felony complaint, and some of the vehicles were never recovered.
A yearlong investigation was conducted by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol as part of the Taskforce for Regional Auto Theft Prevention.