Thirteen people have been indicted for stealing victims’ banking information with skimming devices at gas stations throughout the Southern United States, and using that information to steal, and then launder, more than $2 million using ATMs and banks in Manhattan.
The four top defendants out of 13 – Garegin Spasrtalyan, age 40, Aram Martirosian, age 34, Hayk Dzhandzhapanyan, age 40, and Davit Kudugulyan, age 42 – are considered as the lead defendants and are charged with Money Laundering theft and possession of a forgery device and forgery instruments.
The top four defendants used credit card skimmers to copy credit and ATM numbers, as well as PIN numbers that individuals used at Raceway and Racetrac gas stations throughout Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina.
The skimming devices were internally installed and, therefore, undetectable to victims who paid at the pumps. The devices were also Bluetooth enabled, so the defendants did not have to physically remove the skimming devices in order to obtain the stolen personal identifying information.
These top defendants then allegedly encoded that stolen information onto forged cards. From approximately March 2012 to March 2013, they used those forged cards to withdraw cash at ATMs in Manhattan, and then deposited that stolen money into bank accounts in New York that they had established. The other members of the scheme then promptly withdrew that money at banks in California or Nevada.
Each of the defendants’ transactions was under $10,000. They were allegedly structured in a manner to avoid any cash transaction reporting requirements imposed by law and to disguise the nature, ownership, and control of the defendants’ criminal proceeds. From March 26, 2012, to March 28, 2013, the defendants are accused of laundering approximately $2.1 million.