Thirteen Indicted in Gas Station Skimming Scheme

Published in CSP Daily News

Manhattan D.A. indicts data thieves who used devices at RaceTrac stations in South, stole funds on both coasts

NEW YORK --Thirteen people were indicted this week for stealing motorists' bank data using skimming devices at gas stations throughout the southern United States.

According to documents filed in court, the top four defendants used credit-card skimming devices to copy credit and ATM numbers, as well as personal identification numbers (PINs), that individuals used at Raceway and RaceTrac stations int 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.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said that from March 26, 2012, to March 28, 2013, the defendants used the information to steal and then launder approximately $2.1 million at ATMs and banks in Manhattan. The defendants are also charged with laundering the stolen money by making cash deposits and withdrawals of stolen proceeds under $10,000 in more than 70 different bank accounts.

The top defendants allegedly encoded the stolen information onto forged cards. From approximately March 2012 to March 2013, they used those cards to withdraw cash at ATMs in Manhattan, and then deposited that stolen money into bank accounts in New York that they had established for that purpose. 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.

The four lead defendants--Garegin Spartalyan, Aram Martirosian, Hayk Dzhandzhapanyan and Davit Kudugulyan--are charged in the 426-count indictment with money laundering in the second degree, criminal possession of stolen property in the second degree, grand larceny in the second and third degree, criminal possession of a forgery device and criminal possession of forged instruments in the second degree. The additional nine defendants are each charged with two counts of either money laundering in the second degree or money laundering in the third degree.

"By using skimming devices planted inside gas station pumps, these defendants are accused of fueling the fastest-growing crime in the country," said Vance. "Cybercriminals and identity thieves are not limited to any geographic region, working throughout the world behind computers."

Click here to read Vance's full press statement.