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Second suspect in credit card skimming operation extradited

By Rob Shikina

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 11:08 a.m. HST, Jul 30, 2011



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

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

Changryan, who was arrested at 5:30 a.m. Friday, 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, was scheduled to begin his trial earlier this month in Circuit Court.

Davtyan was extradited from California 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 OCCC on $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. 

Changryan was scheduled to be sentenced June 3 in California on identity theft-related charges and extradited to Hawaii after he was sentenced, the Honolulu prosecutor's office has said.

The Los Angeles Times 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 were 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.While several of the defendants served as lookouts, created distractions and blocked views to the front of the pumps, Changryan allegedly used a master key to open the  front panel of the pumps and attached electronic skimming devices, the indictment said. 

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

Following 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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