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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Idaho

Monday, June 8, 2015

California Man Sentenced for Credit Card Fraud for Installing Skimming Devices in Gas Pumps

BOISE – Vachik Babayan, 42, of Tujunga, California, was sentenced today to 11months and 25 days in prison for access device fraud for possessing fifteen or more unauthorized credit card account numbers, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced.  U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge also ordered Babayan to pay a $10,500 fine, to pay restitution in the amount of $9,999, and to serve three months of home detention and three years of supervised release following his release from prison.

According to the plea agreement, Babayan travelled to Idaho on two separate occasions for the purpose of installing, and aiding and abetting the installation of, credit card account number skimmers in gas station pumps, in both Caldwell, Idaho, and Idaho Falls, Idaho.  The skimmers diverted the electronic communication of credit card information from the normal course of wires and circuits within the pump, and recorded the credit card information, including name and account number, which Babayan later planned to retrieve.

On December 24, 2012, Babayan installed a credit card skimmer in a gas station in Caldwell, Idaho.  Prior to its discovery by gas station employees, the skimmer collected the account information of approximately 91 account holders who swiped their cards at the targeted pump.  The skimmer also captured Babayan’s own credit card information, as he used his card to test the installation.  Babayan returned to the same gas station on January 8, 2013, intending to retrieve the skimmer and the captured account information.  However, on December 28, 2012, the gas station discovered the skimmer and turned it over to the Secret Service.

On February 20, 2013, Babayan rented a U-Haul van in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  Babayan used this van to block security cameras at gas stations in Idaho Falls while installing credit card skimmers in gas pumps at various Idaho Falls gas stations.  On February 21, 2013, a total of seven skimmers were recovered at three gas stations in Idaho Falls.  Babayan installed and aided and abetted in the installation of these skimmers.  Prior to discovery, these skimmers captured names and account numbers from approximately 66 credit card transactions, including Babayan’s account information.

“This case demonstrates how vigilant cooperation between federal and local law enforcement, and local businesses, protects Idaho consumers from credit card fraud and other violations of financial security,” said Olson.

The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service, the Caldwell Police Department, the Boise Police Department, the Mountain Home Police Department, the Boise County Sheriff’s Office, the Idaho Falls Police Department, and the Glendale California Police Department as part of the Los Angeles Electronic Crimes Task Force.


Identity Theft
Updated June 8, 2015