Authorities recently announced the indictment of 13 people for participating in a $2.1 million card-skimming scam that targeted gas stations throughout the United States.
According to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the defendants are accused of using skimming devices at gas stations throughout the South and laundering the money through ATMs and banks in New York. In addition, the defendants also stand accused of laundering the stolen money by making cash deposits under $10,000 in more than 70 bank accounts and then withdrawing the loot.
The four lead defendants – Gargin Spartalyan, 40, Aram Martirosian, 34, Hayk Dzhandzhapanyan, 40, and Davit Kudugulyan, 42 – are charged within the 426-count indictment with Money Laundering in the Second Degree, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second Degree, Grand Larceny in the Second and Third Degree, Criminal Possession of a Forgery Device, and Criminal Possession of Forged Instruments in the Second Degree. The additional defendants – Azat Aramyan, 25, Norayr Aramyan, 25, Argine Ananyan, 34, Rosa Unusyan, 24, Sona Minasyan, 51, Armen Abroyan, 36, Hasmik Miribian, 64, Artur Pogosyan, 31, and Rose Vardui Pndlyan, 47, are each charged with two counts of either Money Laundering in the Second Degree or Money Laundering in the Third Degree.
“By using skimming devices planted inside gas station pumps, these defendants are accused of fueling the fastest growing crime in the country,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, in a statement. “Cybercriminals and identity thieves are not limited to any geographic region, working throughout the world behind computers. In this case, the defendants are charged with stealing personal identifying information from victims in southern states, used forged bank cards on the East Coast, and withdrew stolen proceeds on the West Coast.”
According to documents filed in court, the top four defendants used skimming devices to copy credit card, ATM and associated PIN numbers used by customers at Raceway and Racetrac gas stations in Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina. The skimming devices were internally installed and undetectable to victims who paid at the pumps, authorities said, adding that the devices were Bluetooth enabled so that the defendants did not have to physically remove the skimming devices in order to obtain the stolen personal identifying information.
According to authorities, the lead defendants in the case encoded the stolen information onto forged cards. From approximately March 2012 to March 2013, the forged cards were used to withdraw cash at ATMs in Manhattan. The four are accused of then depositing the stolen money into bank accounts in New York, while other members of the scheme withdrew that money at banks in California or Nevada.
The investigation began after the top four defendants were arrested and charged in New York State Supreme Court on March 21, 2013. This indictment fully supersedes the previously filed indictment against those individuals.
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Brian Prince is a Contributing Writer for SecurityWeek.Previous Columns by Brian Prince:13 Charged in $2.1 Million Card Skimming OperationMac Malware Variant Updated With New Tricks IntelCrawler Names Second Target POS Malware SuspectSecurity Incident Response Teams Getting Short End of Budget StickGerman Authorities Warn Millions of Online Credentials Compromised
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