Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Sentencing for ATM Identity Theft Scam

Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SAN FRANCISCO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that Gervork Aroutiounyan, 48, was sentenced for an ATM identity theft scam that spanned seven counties.

Aroutiounyan and Gnel Snapyan, 35, were charged for “skimming” debit card information of Chase Bank customers and stealing $320,728. The Department of Justice eCrime Unit was able to charge the entirety of the scheme across seven counties, including the counties of Santa Clara, Marin, Fresno, San Bernardino, San Diego and Los Angeles.

Aroutiounyan was sentenced today in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court to three years and eight months in state prison, and ordered to pay restitution to Chase Bank of $320,728. The sentencing of Snapyan was delayed until June 15.

“These criminals stole not just money, but people’s identity,” said Attorney General Harris. “While modern technology provides many advantages, it is also increasingly being used by criminals, which is why I created the eCrime unit within the Department of Justice.”

In September 2011, the Attorney General’s office charged the defendants with 28 counts of felony fraud. On March 1, the defendants entered a plea of guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit grand theft, computer access fraud, identity theft, second degree burglary and forgery of access cards. Additionally, each plead guilty to three counts of second degree burglary.

Between July 2010 and February 2011, Aroutiounyan and his co-conspirator replaced the card readers at Chase Bank ATM vestibules. The readers they installed allowed them to retrieve the card information of customers using the ATM. Additionally, the crew installed micro cameras to capture the card holders’ PIN entry. With both the card information and the PIN information, they created bogus ATM access cards. These cards were used to fraudulently withdraw $320,728. This type of crime is frequently referred to as a “skimmer operation.”

Chase Bank has reimbursed customers for their losses. The case was investigated by the San Luis Obispo County Police Department.

The California Department of Justice eCrime unit was created last year to identify and prosecute identity theft crimes, cyber crimes and other crimes involving the use of technology.

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