By Mary O’KEEFE
Glendale police have arrested suspects on two separate cases concerning identity theft and fraud.
Over 24 felony charges were filed last week against Vachik Kasumayan, 61, and Virab Torosyan, 48, both of Glendale.
Glendale police obtained a warrant and searched Kasumayan’s home in the 91208 area of Glendale on July 29. They found several pieces of equipment typically used in creating false credit cards including a machine that re-encodes numbers onto cards.
“We also found skimmers,” said Sgt. Robert Breckenridge.
Skimmers are small devices that can be concealed in the palm of a hand or attached to ATM’s and other card reading devices. Several months ago in La Crescenta a skimmer was found at the Citibank in the 2600 block of Foothill Boulevard. As the customer slides his or her card the skimmer records and saves the credit card numbers. The skimmer is then retrieved and the information is used to commit identity theft.
Breckenridge said police do not know where the skimmers had been placed or what was done with the information obtained.
“There was enough evidence for 24 felony charges on [Kasumayan],” he said.
Kasumayan’s operation was sophisticated and well equipped.
“We believe he had runners out collecting skimmer devices [after they had collected the stolen numbers],” he added.
The police received information from an informant concerning the credit card operation. The arrest was made in July but charges were not made until last week because of the complications of gathering information in these types of financial crimes, Breckenridge said.
In another case, three arrests were made in Tarzana that have ties to Glendale.
William Johnson, 32, Michael Castro, 24, and Benjamin Granodas, 32, were arrested on Sept. 23 after a search warrant was served and several pieces of equipment used to commit identity theft was found.
“[We recovered] an embosser and a work bench where they were [apparently] making skimmer devices,” Breckenridge said.
Counterfeit credit and gift cards were also discovered. Investigators found computers they think will contain more information concerning stolen personal financial information.
“We believe there are plenty of credit card numbers on those computers,” he added.
All suspects were convicted felons and several firearms were discovered in the home at the time the warrant was served.
“With these organized groups with all this manufacturing [equipment] we are finding that they are armed in their home. There is big money in credit card [theft],” the sergeant added. “The cards sell from $80 to $500 each.”
Breckenridge hopes that with these arrests will come awareness to residents that these types of crimes are prevalent.
“The problem with these types of crimes is you could have thousands of victims,” he said. “There are so many scams sent online. We hope the word gets out to [residents] that they should not provide any credit card or social security numbers online.”
He also warned about giving information to anyone who calls on the phone claiming to be from a bank or credit card company. Breckenridge suggests not to give information over the phone but to call the bank or financial institution back to verify it is legitimate.