Sacto 9-1-1
July 26, 2012
Three accused of identity theft in skimming operation

Gagik+Verdyan+.jpgMihran+Hakobyan+.jpgKarine+Khachaturyan+.jpggas+pump+inside.jpgThree people have been arrested on suspicion of identify theft in a case involving the use of skimming devices.

Gagik Verdyan (photo, top left) , 34, Mihran Hakobyan (photo, top right), 27, and Karine Khachaturyan (photo, left), 20, were taken into custody Wednesday by detectives with the Sacramento County Sheriff's High Tech Crimes unit. Each is being held in lieu of at least $2 million in bail.

After a monthlong investigation, sheriff's detectives along with officers from the California Highway Patrol, Sacramento Police Department, San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department and the Federal Bureau Investigation, recovered thousands of credit card numbers, hundreds of counterfeit California ID cards, numerous counterfeit credit cards, and skimming devices, according to a Sheriff's Department news release.

Authorities said they believe the majority of the skimming devices were installed inside gas pumps. The devices could not be detected from the outside of the pump but would be easily recognizable if the pump panel were opened (pictured). Installing the skimming devices would take only seconds and opening the gas pump panel would not disrupt service or activate alarms, they said.

Detectives are notifying banks and their customers of the stolen credit card numbers and ask that gas station operators check their equipment. Anyone who finds a skimmer is asked not to touch or remove it but to call the local law enforcement agency so officers can collect the device.

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