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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Seventh Guilty Plea in Gas Pump Skimming Fraud Scheme

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Philadelphia man pleaded guilty today to his role in a gas pump skimming fraud scheme in Northern Virginia and elsewhere that resulted in the theft of thousands of credit and debit cards and a loss to financial institutions and the U.S. Postal Service of nearly $500,000 in actual losses and at least $3.5 million in intended losses.

According to court documents, Timurbek Khasanov, 38, participated in a scheme that involved at least six other individuals. The scheme was carried out by attaching electronic devices known as “skimmers” to gas pump payment systems—which collected the information captured when unwitting customers swiped their payment cards at the compromised gas pumps—and then encoding the stolen card numbers onto physical payment cards. Thereafter, the encoded physical cards were used throughout Northern Virginia and elsewhere to make fraudulent ATM withdrawals and U.S. Postal Service money order purchases. Court documents show that between May and August 2017, Khasanov used these encoded physical cards to make at least $5,100 in unauthorized cash withdrawals from ATMs and to purchase at least $6,200 in U.S. Postal Service money orders.

Khasanov pleaded guilty to bank fraud and wire fraud, each of which carry maximum terms of imprisonment of 30 years, as well as aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory term of imprisonment of 2 years.  Khasanov is scheduled to be sentenced on September 6.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties, and a federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

As reflected in court documents, in addition to Khasanov, the six individuals listed in the table below have been charged in connection with the same criminal conduct, have pleaded guilty to the listed offenses, and have been sentenced.

Name, Age

Hometown

Convictions

Total Sentence

Rudolf Mekhakian, 31

Van Nuys, CA

Conspiracy to Commit Bank and Wire Fraud; Aggravated Identity Theft

90 months

Radik Karapetyan, 25

North Hollywood, CA

Conspiracy to Commit Bank and Wire Fraud; Aggravated Identity Theft

78  months

Siranush Yengibaryan, 24

Van Nuys, CA

Conspiracy to Commit Bank and Wire Fraud; Aggravated Identity Theft

66 months

Armen Saplekchian, 37

Tarzana, CA

Conspiracy to Commit Bank and Wire Fraud; Aggravated Identity Theft

60 months

Mushegh Melkonyan, 28

Las Vegas, NV

Conspiracy to Commit Bank and Wire Fraud; Aggravated Identity Theft

54 months

Anatoly Zinchenko, 47

Philadelphia, PA

Conspiracy to Commit Bank and Wire Fraud

 

33 months

 

Court documents indicate that some of the above-listed defendants may face immigration consequences as a result of their convictions. For instance, Karapetyan and Yengibaryan are citizens of Armenia and green card holders, and Saplekchian is an illegal alien.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Raymond Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C., Matthew J. DeSarno, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, FBI Washington Field Office, Peter R. Rendina, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Colonel Edwin C. Roessler Jr., Fairfax County Chief of Police, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander P. Berrang and Kellen S. Dwyer are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case Nos. 1:18-cr-136, 1:18-cr-143, 1:18-cr-144, and 1:18-cr-149.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Identity Theft
Contact: 
Joshua Stueve Director of Communications joshua.stueve@usdoj.gov
Updated May 2, 2019