The prison terms for three men who pleaded guilty to federal charges for their roles in a years-long nationwide card skimming scheme were decided Wednesday.
The U.S Attorney’s office reported brothers Davit and Vahram Simonyan were sentenced along with Arsen Galstyan for their roles in skimming devices to take card users' information, then using the stolen information to make unauthorized credit and debit cards.
The defendants used the fake cards to buy postal money orders and make withdrawals from the victim's accounts in New York, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, and at more than a dozen post offices in Southern California, including the San Diego area.
According to the prosecution, the defendant’s scheme took more than $1 million from “hundreds of victims”. Prosecutors say the brothers admitted to obtaining more than $642,000 in stolen money from 2017 to 2020, during which they structured their bank withdrawals in order to avoid drawing attention to their transactions.
During the course of one month, the siblings withdrew $91,500 in cash from a single bank account, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Davit Simonyan admitted that he and a co-conspirator possessed 75 fake debit and credit cards on just a single day in 2018.
Davit also admitted in his plea agreement to staging a car accident in order to get a fraudulent insurance payout, in which he used cars insured by two of his co-defendants to orchestrate the fake crash.
At Wednesday's sentencing hearing, Davit received a 46-month term, while his brother received 33 months. Galstyan was sentenced to 18 months.
“People should be able to use a gas pump or an ATM without fear that a criminal will steal their identities and their savings,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “This office will ensure that identity thieves, fraudsters and money launderers are held accountable for victimizing our community.” Grossman commended Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Pilchak and the federal agents who diligently pursued this matter.
Four others have also pleaded guilty in the case. Three defendants have been sentenced to their prison terms.