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Second alleged con man arrested in Waikiki scam

By Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 05:12 p.m. HST, Mar 13, 2014

The second of two Los Angeles con men indicted last August in connection with an ATM skimming scheme in Waikiki was arrested this week in Seattle.

City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro said Armen Apoyan, 33, formerly of Los Angeles, was arrested on Tuesday and charged first-degree theft. His bail was set at $250,000. The suspect will be extradited to Honolulu for trial.

A co-defendant, Argishti Khachaturyan, 33, was arrested in September and extradited to Honolulu, where his Circuit Court jury trial is scheduled for the week of June 16. He is being held in Oahu Community Correctional Center unable to post bail of $250,000.

Both men were indicted on Aug. 20, 2013 by an Oahu grand jury and charged with conspiracy and identity theft. 

The August indictment alleges that the two arrived in Honolulu from Los Angeles on Feb. 21, 2013 and later installed an "overlay skimming device" over the card reader slot of a Central Pacific Bank ATM located at 2250 Kalakaua Ave.

The device was left on the ATM for three days and captured the account information of anyone who used the ATM.

The defendants removed the device, then made counterfeit ATM cards, which they used to withdraw money from victims' accounts at an ATM located at The Modern Hotel at 1775 Ala Moana Blvd. and at several other ATM's in Honolulu and California.

The defendants returned to Los Angeles on Feb. 25, 2013.

The defendants caused financial losses in excess of $20,000, the statutory threshold for first-degree identity theft. If convicted, they face an automatic prison term of up to 20 years, according to Kaneshiro's office.

Police arrest records said there were at least five women and two men who made a complaint.

Apoyan's arrest is further evidence that law enforcement officials in Hawaii take identity theft very seriously, Kaneshiro said in a news release.

Kaneshiro said the arrest was the result of efforts by United States Marshals and the United States Secret Service, which spent the last six months tracking Apoyan.

The indictment came after a six-month joint investigation conducted by the Secret Service and the Honolulu Police Department. Several agencies assisted in the investigation including the FBI's Eastern European Organized Crime Task Force, U.S. Marshals, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and the United States Social Security Administration.

In addition, the banks involved in this case -- Central Pacific Bank and First Hawaiian Bank -- cooperated with law enforcement officials, Kaneshiro said.

Last year, Kaneshiro successfully prosecuted two other Los Angeles con men for installing "skimming devices" inside gas pumps at local gas stations. Those men, Akop Changryan and Vardan Kagramanyan, are now serving 20-year prison sentences.

Like Changryan and Kagramanyan, the two latest suspects traveled to Hawaii for the purpose of targeting Hawaii businesses and residents, Kaneshiro said.

"America's financial system in based on trust," Kaneshiro said. "The actions of the defendants threaten the very foundation of that system, and for that reason, they will be extradited and prosecuted under Hawaii's identity theft laws." 

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AhiPoke wrote:
These guys of Armenian descent are people that use to be referred to as gypsies. I remember many years ago when a family of gypsies use to live in Hawaii Kai. They caused havoc for several years before leaving.
on March 13,2014 | 08:36AM
GoldenRule wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on March 13,2014 | 08:51AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
How did HPD get corrupt by the story on LA thieves? Seniors need to stick to the story line.
on March 13,2014 | 09:34AM
GoldenRule wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on March 13,2014 | 11:20AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Stick to THIS story line.
on March 13,2014 | 02:55PM
what wrote:
Wouldn't somebody eventually punch them in the face for throwing firecrackers at them?
on March 13,2014 | 11:00AM
RetiredWorking wrote:
Golden, Merino family are not Armenian.
on March 14,2014 | 04:54AM
HD36 wrote:
Is that how we got the term, I got Gyped? Or is it jipped?
on March 13,2014 | 07:37PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
Ahi, do more research! Armenians are NOT gypsies!!! They are entirely different cultures. It's like mistaking American Indians for Filipinos.
on March 14,2014 | 04:53AM
joseph007 wrote:
Whether Gypsies or not, these scammers do real damage to people's finances. 20 years minimum is warranted.
on March 13,2014 | 08:50AM
HAJAA1 wrote:
Hawaii judges? More like 20 days.
on March 13,2014 | 09:02AM
NotNasti wrote:
They will get 20 years. Not local, not ties, criminal conspiracy = 20 years.
on March 13,2014 | 10:38AM
BigOpu wrote:
SA - Is there a picture of this device so the public knows what it looks like?
on March 13,2014 | 09:06AM
DABLACK wrote:
Hope these guys can handle the scams going on in the big house. They're eyes going open wide when they're bend down !!
on March 13,2014 | 09:13AM
808Cindy wrote:
Good job Keith! Please ensure both of these guys serve everyday of the 20 year sentence!!!!
on March 13,2014 | 09:17AM
saveparadise wrote:
I believe this is a Fed offense with the FBI involved. Hopefully the higher court judges are better at sentencing than our local creampuff courts.
on March 13,2014 | 09:27AM
hanoz808 wrote:
crazy story, but glad they are caught
on March 13,2014 | 11:10AM
kuasol1 wrote:
These two guys were reared in the Soviet Union where crookedness was a way of life.
on March 13,2014 | 12:59PM
emagination808 wrote:
And now they will be "reared" in Hawaii
on March 13,2014 | 05:48PM
hapaguy wrote:
I don't know if "con man" is the correct term for these guys. A "con man" cheats or tricks an individual out of their money or possessions via a confidence (hence "con") game. They are thieves not con men.....
on March 13,2014 | 04:26PM
Anonymous wrote:
That's crazy I used to use that ATM when I worked in Waikiki. Good job
on March 13,2014 | 11:49PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
Golden, my bad. Merino family are gypsies.
on March 14,2014 | 04:57AM
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