California skimmers jailed; felon tracked via MySpace profile

California skimmers jailed; felon tracked via MySpace profile

A judge has jailed two men for their parts in a card skimming spree at Northern California gas stations that netted more than $90,000.

David Karapetyan pleaded guilty to 37 felonies and received a seven-year prison sentence, while accomplice Zhirayr Zamanyan was given a five year term after admitting five counts.

Another two defendants, Edwin Hamazaspyan and Naum Mints are scheduled to appear in court next month.

The gang acquired keys to unlock various kinds of gas station pumps, connecting two cables inside to their two-inch electronic devices, which looked like a circuit board encased in electrical tape, and recorded card data and PINs.

An investigation began in February after a 7-Eleven staffer in Martinez noticed one of the devices inside a pump. Police removed it, replaced it with a mock and conducted 24-hour surveillance. Karapetyan and Zamanyan were arrested when they arrived to remove the offending item.

The pair had keys to pumps on them as well as seven mobile phones and two GPS devices loaded with gas station addresses. Mints was identified through the mobile records and surveillance photos cross-checked against images on social networking site MySpace.

In total, authorities have found seven devices inside gas pumps across Northern California and the men are believed to have stolen around $90,000 from 196 people between November 2009 and February 2010. Banks have now reimbursed victims.

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