LOS ANGELES – Four men were taken into custody this morning on federal charges related to alleged schemes involving the use of “skimming devices” to steal credit card data and using that data to manufacture and sell fraudulent credit cards.
The four were arrested pursuant to federal indictments returned late last month by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles. The two schemes involve stolen information from more than 10,000 accounts and more than $2 million in losses. Two federal indictments charge a total of five defendants.
Among those arrested this morning are three named in a 13-count indictment:
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 tomorrow.
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 account information. According to the indictment, Bislamian manufactured and obtained “skimming devices” designed to intercept data from credit and debit cards that were 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. 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.
Bislamian, Bislamyan and Saribekyan are expected to be arraigned on the indictment this afternoon at 2:00 in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
Khatchatryan and Grigoryan are expected to be arraigned tomorrow afternoon.
The conspiracy charges alleged in the indictments each carry a statutory maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. The charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory consecutive two-year prison term.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
This case is the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Glendale Police Department, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office Investigators, the San Diego Police Department, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, the Irvine Police Department, the Westminster Police Department, the United States Secret Service, the United States Postal Service – Office of Inspector General; the General Services Administration, the United States Marshals Service, the Los Angeles Joint Regional Intelligence Center, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation, and the Los Angeles Police Department.
Release No. 14-121