LOS ANGELES (CNS) — A Studio City man is scheduled to be sentenced June 27 for his role in a scheme in which credit card “skimmers” were installed inside pumps at gas stations in Southern California.
Koren Robert Kechedzian, 24, was convicted by a Los Angeles federal jury on two counts each of credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
At the conclusion of the week-long trial last Friday, the jury found that Kechedzian possessed two USB flash drives — commonly called “thumb drives” — that contained stolen credit card information.
The portable drives were found at Kechedzian’s home when federal authorities executed a search warrant in June 2013.
At that time, investigators also recovered an illegal skimming device designed to be installed in gas station pumps to steal credit card data.
Special agents testified that credit card fraud rings install skimming devices in gas station pumps and obtain credit card numbers from the devices using Bluetooth technology.
Customers who use the compromised gas pumps are the unwitting victims of fraud.
“The incidence of skimming, both here in Los Angeles and nationwide, has reached epidemic proportions and consumers need to very vigilant about any suspicious or unauthorized activity on their accounts,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations Los Angeles.
“These types of crimes not only result in major losses for financial institutions and merchants, but can cause a major disruption in consumers’ personal finances,” Macias said. “HSI will continue to work closely with its federal and local law enforcement partners to target skimming schemes and the criminal syndicates that typically are behind them.”
Kechedzian faces up to 10 years in prison on each of the credit card fraud counts, and mandatory two-year prison terms for the aggravated identity theft counts, prosecutors said.