Four Los Angeles-area men were arrested Thursday on federal charges stemming from alleged schemes involving the use of “skimming” devices to lift credit card data in order to manufacture and sell phony credit cards.
The four were arrested pursuant to federal indictments returned late last month by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles which allege they helped steal more than $2 million from about 10,000 accounts, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Among those arrested and named in a 13-count indictment are Armen Bislamian, 32, of Van Nuys; Khachatur Bislamyan, 31, of Pasadena; and Sisak Saribekyan, 28, of West Covina.
The second indictment, which alleges four counts, names Karlen Khatchatryan, 30, of Sherman Oaks, who self-surrendered this morning; and Hartunyun Grigoryan, 34, of North Hollywood, who has agreed to surrender to authorities Friday.
Both indictments allege conspiracies to commit bank fraud, possession of counterfeit and unauthorized access devices, illegal possession of device- making equipment, and aggravated identity theft.
The first indictment outlines how Bislamian, Bislamyan and Saribekyan allegedly conspired to steal account information from unsuspecting customers and created fake credit cards with the stolen information.
According to the indictment, Bislamian manufactured and obtained skimming devices designed to intercept data from credit and debit cards swiped by unsuspecting customers at point-of-sale terminals.
Law enforcement authorities found the skimming devices installed at gas pumps in Irvine, Encinitas and San Diego, according to federal prosecutors.
The indictment further alleges that Bislamian and Bislamyan stored stolen account information at their homes and at a facility dedicated to manufacturing fraudulent credit cards.
The bogus cards were made through a process called “re-encoding” — in which stolen account information is placed on the magnetic strip on the back of a plastic card. As alleged in the indictment, Bislamyan and Saribekyan sold and used fraudulent cards re-encoded with stolen account information.
The second indictment alleges that Khatchatryan and Grigoryan operated a re-encoding facility in Los Angeles where they used stolen account information to make fraudulent credit cards. Law enforcement found this re- encoding facility at a liquor distributor in Los Angeles.
The conspiracy charges alleged in the indictments each carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. The charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory consecutive two-year prison term.
— City News Service