LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Claims adjuster, Agop Sarafian, 65, of La Crescenta, and chiropractor, Shahe Topjian, D.C. 65, of Granada Hills, were arrested on felony insurance fraud charges after allegedly conspiring to defraud Sarafian’s employer, the State Compensation Insurance Fund (State Fund), by setting up fake workers’ compensation lien payments to receive undeserved insurance payouts of over $1.6 million.
In November 2019, another State Fund employee noted a suspicious lien payment issued by Sarafian and advised a Special Investigator for State Fund regarding their concerns. State Fund, a “quasi-state agency”, initiated an investigation and discovered that Sarafian had processed 459 lien payments to Topjian over a period of twelve years. State Fund referred the case to the Department of Insurance for more investigation. A lien is usually submitted by a medical practitioner or supplier for payment that they believe they’re entitled from a claimant’s workers’ compensation treatment or for services rendered.
The Department’s investigation, dubbed Operation Lien on Me, discovered Sarafian created and approved 459 lien payments for Topjian between 2007 and 2019. Sarafian and Topjian conspired during this organized fraud scheme to repeatedly cheat State Fund by putting in place pretend workers’ compensation lien payments for services that were never provided. Sarafian used information from past State Fund workers’ compensation claims he worked on to make the dishonest lien payments.
“These trustworthy professionals conspired to illicitly line their own pockets for over a decade,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “Their actions not only defrauded cash from State Fund, but additionally added burden to California shoppers who pay for this kind of fraud through higher insurance premiums. My department is committed to work fraud to shield consumers and guarantee systems designed to protect them aren’t misused.”
The fraudulent lien payments contained no supporting documentation that Topjian provided treatment or procedures to any of the 459 claimants. Sarafian processed the lien payments with his $5,000 approving authority limit to avoid outside approval. The payments from State Fund were sent to Topjian and a part was given to Sarafian, although neither of them was entitled to receive any of the payments. Their alleged fraud resulted to an accumulated $1,603,340 loss to State Fund. Sarafian resigned from State Fund in December 2019.
Both Sarafian and Topjian will be booked into the Los Angeles Sheriff Department Inmate Reception Center. Bail was set at $50,000. Their arraignment is going to be set at Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office is prosecuting this case.