Wednesday, November 25, 2015         

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Second credit card skimming suspect in custody

A man is extradited from California and is held in a police cell

By Rob Shikina


A 27-year-old man accused of identity theft involving credit card information "skimmed" from gas pumps was extradited to Honolulu Friday morning.

Akop Changryan is being held at the main police cellblock in lieu of $500,000 bail. He has been charged with three counts of first-degree identity theft.

Changryan, who was arrested at 5:30 a.m., is one of three men in an identity theft case involving credit card information stolen from gas pumps in Honolulu.

Ariak Davtyan, 45, of Los Angeles is scheduled to begin his trial in October in Circuit Court.

Davtyan was extradited from California in May on three counts of first-degree identity theft for allegedly stealing more than $150,000 from six Hawaii financial institutions using credit card information stolen from 156 accounts. He remained in custody at Oahu Community Correctional Center in lieu of $500,000 bail.

Davtyan, Changryan and another man — Karapet Kalantryan — were indicted March 22 by an Oahu grand jury for allegedly installing skimming devices at four Aloha Island Mini Mart gas stations on Oahu last September. The three men allegedly returned to California with the account data the devices recorded and made counterfeit credit and debit cards using the information. The trio were indicted on eight counts, including identity theft, conspiracy and fraudulent use of a credit card.

Kalantryan's whereabouts are not currently known.

The reported that Changryan was accused of placing credit card skimming devices on gas pumps at a Shell Station on the Pacific Coast Highway last July. Nine people reported that information skimmed from their credit cards was used to make purchases in Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, Arizona and Mexico. He was arrested In January in Glendale, a suburb of Los Angeles, where he lives.

Davtyan is not facing charges on the mainland.

The Oahu grand jury indictment said the defendants and an accomplice installed and retrieved the devices between Sept. 9 and 24.

The defendants rented a van that had doors on both sides of the vehicle and parked the van next to the gasoline pumps, the indictment said. While several of the defendants served as lookouts, created distractions and blocked views to the front of the pumps, Changryan used a master key to open the front panel of the pumps and installed electronic skimming devices, the indictment said.

The defendants returned later and used the same technique to retrieve the devices.

After the September incident, Aloha Petroleum, which owns the four minimarts, installed new locking mechanisms on the fuel dispensers at all Aloha stations.

Additionally, the company stopped accepting payment cards requiring personal identification numbers at some of its locations, including the four where skimming machines were placed, said Richard North, Aloha Petroleum information technology director.

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