Eduard Arakelyan, 21, and Arman Vardanyan, 23, were recently sentenced to 36 months in prison for using debit card data stolen from Michaels stores to withdraw thousands of dollars from ATMs.
"Each also was sentenced to an additional 24 months for aggravated identity theft and five years of supervised release," writes BankInfoSecurity's Tracy Kitten. "The court has ordered both to pay $42,000 in restitution. The two men, who were charged March 5, pleaded guilty on March 20, according to a statement issued this week by the Department of Justice. Arakelyan and Vardanyan admitted that in the summer of 2011, they used card numbers stolen from Michaels to create nearly 1,000 counterfeit cards they later used at ATMs in Northern California to withdraw funds from bank accounts."
"Prosecutors alleged the scheme began in May 2011 and stopped when the two men were arrested after an ATM withdrawal on July 10, 2011," CBS San Francisco reports. "Investigators found the 952 fraudulent cards, two guns, a GPS navigation system showing ATM locations and $56,599 in cash either with the men or in their car or hotel room, prosecutors said in a sentencing brief. Each card was encoded with stolen account information and had a stolen personal identification number, or PIN, written on the outside."
"This case represents a clear example of the successful cooperation between federal, state and local law enforcement authorities to aggressively investigate and hold accountable criminal organizations and individuals who target our financial payment systems," Special Agent in Charge Andrew C. Adelmann of the U.S. Secret Service’s San Francisco Field Office said in a statement.