STUDIO CITY—A Studio City man was sentenced to more than five years in federal prison on Monday, August 22 for a gas station scam in 2013 that resulted in the theft of over 1,400 credit card profiles.
United States District Judge Philip S. Guttierez sentenced Koren Kechedzian, 25, to 65 months in federal prison, three years of supervised release once his sentence is over and ordered him to pay $114,135 in restitution to victim financial institutions that suffered losses when the credit card numbers were used for fraudulent purchases, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.
Kechedzian was arrested in June 2013, when authorities executed a search warrant and recovered two counterfeit credit cards that were embossed with his name, two USB flash drives, or “thumb drives,” that contained stolen credit card data and an illegal “skimming” device—designed to be installed into gas station pumps—that uses Bluetooth technology to retrieve credit card information, special agents testified.
“Customers who use these compromised gas pumps are the unwitting victims of credit card fraud,” states a press release from the Central District of California’s U.S. Attorney’s Office.
On March 11, 2016, after a one-week trial, Kechedzian was convicted by a Los Angeles jury on two counts of credit card fraud (two counts of possession of 15 or more counterfeit access devices) and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
Bank records examined by investigators verified that the stolen credit card numbers on the USB flash drive came from Chevron gas stations in Palmdale and MoorPark; testimony at the trial showed that the data on the drives was consistent with the output from a credit card skimming device.
“The incidence of skimming, both here in Los Angeles and nationwide, has reached epidemic proportions and consumers need to be very vigilant about any suspicious or unauthorized activity on their accounts,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations Los Angeles, in a statement.
He added, “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.”
The investigation was conducted by specials agents with the IRS Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement’s (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) and the U.S. Secret Service.
The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Kelly L. Quinn of the Major Frauds Dection and Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Paetty of the General Crimes Section.