Long investigation leads to Routt County man getting arrested on 96 counts of fraud | SteamboatToday.com

Long investigation leads to Routt County man getting arrested on 96 counts of fraud

After a lengthy investigation by the Routt County Sheriff’s Office that spanned over two years, Movses Mikaelyan, a 36-year-old man who lives in Routt County, was arrested and accused of multiple felonies including identity theft, cybercrime, theft and making unauthorized financial payments with the intent to defraud 96 times, according to his arrest affidavit.

In total, Mikaelyan is accused of racking up over $87,000 in fraudulent transactions.

The sheriff’s office has been investigating the case since November 2020, when an act of identify theft was reported by the owner of True North Furs, Albert Deeds, who lived in rural Routt County. Mikaelyan worked for Deeds and managed the company’s website, according to the arrest summary, and lived on Deeds’ property for some length of time.

Deeds told the sheriff’s office Mikaelyan requested that he open a Paypal MasterCard debit card to pay Google to advertise Deeds’ business, but after filling out the application, Deeds claims he never got the card.

Deeds reported receiving a statement for the Paypal card that showed about $11,000 worth of fraudulent charges, including transactions at several businesses in Steamboat Springs and “R and B Cars” in Denver.

But Deeds elected not to pursue criminal charges at that time.

“Mr. Deeds did not want to pursue criminal prosecution in fear of Mikaelyn, who runs Mr. Deeds website, may use the website as leverage to prevent prosecution,” the affidavit states.

In February 2021, the sheriff’s office received a civil complaint from someone who said they had helped Mikaelyan purchase a Volvo from “R and B Motors” in Denver by providing $3,500 toward a down payment. The reporting party said Mikaelyan had put additional money toward the vehicle using a Paypal credit card.

After Deeds was contacted about the transaction, according to the affidavit, he was still unsure if he wanted to pursue criminal prosecution.

A year later in February 2022, Sheriff’s Deputy Jake Doolin visited Deeds’ residence. Deeds showed the Paypal card to the deputy, saying he obtained the card from Mikaelyan after confronting him in November 2020. Deeds also showed the deputy the card’s statement that included numerous charges from 2020 at restaurants in Steamboat, a hardware store, “R and B Cars”, and payments to “Solid Core,” which according to Deeds, is a company operated by Mikaelyan.

Deeds also said that Mikaelyan created a “shopping cart” for True North Furs through Shopify, a software that allows businesses to sell products through a variety of digital platforms such as social media and blogs. Deeds said Mikaelyan had made himself the owner of the shopping cart and listed Deeds as staff, who couldn’t make any changes to the website.

According to the affidavit, Deeds said the accused was holding the True North Furs website hostage until a camper trailer where Mikaelyan had resided on Deeds’ property was returned to him.

It was at this point that Deeds said he wanted to pursue a criminal case against Mikaelyan, saying the accused was no longer allowed on his property.

About a week later, Deeds reported that Mikaelyan had been changing the ownership of his company’s website and eventually deleted it altogether. Deeds reported to Deputy Doolin that the website was not created by Mikaelyan, saying he was hired to manage the website and marketing. 

After reviewing the PayPal debit card statement, according to the affidavit, over $10,000 had been charged from the True North Furs into the Paypal account, while a little over $12,000 had been paid out of that account.

Over the following months, Deeds worked with a private company to restore access to his electronic accounts. In June 2021, the sheriff’s office obtained a search warrant for records pertaining to the Google, PayPal and Shopify accounts known in this case. 

In July, the sheriff’s office met with Deeds’ accountant, who said the financial irregularities were limited to the True North Furs account.

The balance sheet for that account showed 96 transactions through the PayPal account from July 2020 to September 2021, showing $65,186 of deposits and $87,095 of credits or payments out, showing a total balance of -$21,951.

Deeds claimed that the payments made through the PayPal account were made without his knowledge or permission.

Mikaelyan refused to meet with investigators according to the affidavit.

Detective Richard Munden Jr. prepared an application and affidavit for the issuance of an arrest warrant. The case was forwarded to the office of Matt Karzen, the 14th Judicial District Attorney, who approved a warrant for Mikaelyan’s arrest. 

Mikaelyan was arrested and booked into the Routt County Jail on Monday, Oct. 24. He was released on bond the night before his first court appearance that took place Thursday, Oct. 27.

At the time of his court appearance, Mikaelyan didn’t have an attorney, but was in the process of applying for a public defender. He had not made an official plea but told Routt County Judge Erin Wilson that he intended to defend himself against the charges. 

“After three days sleeping on the concrete, I’m just getting my mind together,” Mikaelyan said in court. “I have evidence to present. I have witnesses.”

Mikaelyan’ next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 2.

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