OC and San Diego Counties ‘Skimming Ring’ Leader Sentenced to Federal prison

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A Van Nuys man was sentenced Monday to 51 months in federal prison for running a “skimming” scheme in which devices used to lift credit card data were secretly planted at gas pumps in San Diego and Orange counties.

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Armen Bislamian, 34, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson to pay $273,000 in restitution and serve five years of supervised release after he gets out of prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Bislamian pleaded guilty last year in downtown Los Angeles to a federal count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

He admitted to manufacturing and obtaining skimming devices designed to intercept data from credit and debit cards swiped by unsuspecting customers at point-of-sale terminals. Authorities found the skimming devices installed at gas pumps in Irvine, Encinitas and San Diego.

Prosecutors said Bislamian and an associate stored stolen account information at their homes and at a Van Nuys facility dedicated to manufacturing fraudulent credit cards.

The bogus cards were made through a process called “re-encoding” — in which stolen account information is placed on the magnetic strip on the back of a plastic card.

Bislamian admitted selling and using fraudulent cards re-encoded with stolen account information, according to federal prosecutors.

Officials said Bislamian, an Armenian native, could now be subjected to deportation proceedings.

—City News Service

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