Friday, November 27, 2015         

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Trial date set for man accused in credit card-skimming case

By Gregg K. Kakesako



One of three men in an identity theft case involving credit card information "skimmed" from gas pumps is scheduled for trial the week of July 11.

A judge scheduled the trial date for Ariak Davtyan, 45, of Los Angeles, during his initial appearance today in Circuit Court via video conference from the Oahu Community Correctional Center.

Davtyan was extradited from California last week 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 requested that an Armenian interpreter be provided at his July court appearance before Circuit Judge Michael Wilson. He remains in custody at OCCC on $500,000 bail.

Davtyan and two other men — Akop Tadevosovich Changryan, 27, and 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 is still at large.

Changryan is scheduled to be sentenced June 3 in California on identity theft-related charges. He is being held in a southern California correctional facility and will be extradited shortly after he is sentenced, the Honolulu prosecutor's office said yesterday.

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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