Both sides speak out in large-scale Routt County identity theft case
The case against a 36-year-old Routt County computer professional accused of bilking one of his clients out of tens of thousands of dollars might be headed to trial.
Movses Mikaelyan faces 96 felony counts of fraud, among other charges including cybercrime and identity theft, and adjudicating the case could require intense scrutiny of evidence and witness testimony. The case is still in its early stages, and the investigation is ongoing.
Both Mikaelyan and the alleged victim, Albert Deeds, said they have been instructed by legal counsel not to discuss specifics of the case, but they were willing to share some of their general thoughts.
“This is probably going to blow up,” said Deeds, who has accused Mikaelyan of siphoning tens of thousands of dollars from Deeds’ business, True North Furs, through various means and multiple fraudulent purchases, according to the arrest affidavit.
The Routt County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation dates back to November 2020, when Deeds reported about $11,000 in unauthorized charges from a PayPal account Mikaelyan created for Deeds’ company, according to Mikaelyan’s arrest affidavit.
According to the affidavit, Deeds was reluctant to pursue criminal charges at first, but after more unauthorized transactions came to light, a dispute escalated to the point that Mikaelyan deleted the website for True North Furs, and Mikaelyan restricted Deeds’ access to several of his personal accounts. Deeds agreed to press charges in February.
The sheriff’s office investigated the case over the ensuing months, during which more than $87,000 of fraudulent transactions were allegedly identified. Mikaelyan was arrested on Oct. 24.
Deeds said he believes other people may eventually come forward with similar accusations, saying that Mikaelyan has access to clients’ private information through his company, SteamboatIT, which is still in operation.
“Movses is a really smart, intelligent guy,” Deeds said. “My question is, is he harvesting information from other people’s computers like he did mine? Social security number? Photo and driver’s license? Bank accounts?”
Google reviews of SteamboatIT.com show a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars, with 55 perfect scores featuring glowing recommendations, but there are also two one-star reviews that accuse Mikaelyan of dishonesty without mentioning identity theft.
Mikaelyan has been assigned a public defender and said he is preparing a defense in court, though he has not yet entered a formal plea.
“Nothing has yet been proven,” Mikaelyan said. “No one has shown a shred of evidence. These are just accusations being made.”
Mikaelyan said he has been brought to court on similar charges in the past, but those charges were dropped and he believes the charges he now faces stem from previous conflicts with the law.
“Not only does this case come from those cases, these cases are a direct result,” Mikaelyan said. “It stems from what happened back then and this is what I’m going to prove in court.”
Deeds said he’s not surprised Mikaelyan insists he is innocent.
“Whenever there’s a problem, he’s always the victim,” Deeds said.
Deeds said Mikaelyan lived on his property for about three years after enlisting the services of SteamboatIT to manage “search engine optimization” for True North Furs, an aspect of online promotion Deeds described as especially complicated.
“Both my wife and I, we’re senior citizens,” Deeds said. “We don’t know how to do all this stuff.”
Mikaelyan said he’s lived in Routt County for 12 years and believes his reputation should help him in court.
“I have history of doing things in my community for over 10 years,” Mikaelyan said.
In January 2020, Mikaelyan piloted a drone to help locate the body of a 25-year-old Oak Creek resident who had gone missing in Oak Creek Canyon.
“I went and spent my time, my energy, risking my very expensive devices to find the missing person,” Mikaelyan recalled.
Deeds described the criminal case as having a lot of moving parts and uncertainty.
“This is probably going to be a very long, drawn-out trial,” Deeds said.
Mikaelyan’s next court appearance is Nov. 30.
To reach Spencer Powell, call 970-871-4229 or email him at spowell@SteamboatPilot.com
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