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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

High-Tech Thieves Jury Rigged Gas Pumps to Steal Customers' Identities

Posted By on Tue, Jan 11, 2011 at 4:09 PM

click to enlarge gaspump1.jpg

A pair of MacGyver-esque identity thieves has pleaded guilty to implanting devices in gas pumps that stole customers' checking account information, a scheme that state officials say brought in $90,000.

The California Attorney General's office announced today that the men -- David Karapetyan and Zhirayr Zamanyan --  pleaded guilty this morning in Contra Costa County Superior Court to felony charges in connection with the gas-pump scheme, which is believed to have affected close to 200 people in Northern California.

Two other defendants are scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 15.

According to the AG's office, the thieves unlocked gas pumps, inserted tiny electronic devices that "skimmed" ATM and gas-card information, and then retrieved the devices. Such devices were discovered in Martinez, Benicia, Livermore, Hayward, Oakland, San Mateo, and Sacramento. You can read the full criminal complaint here.

"In their high-tech crime spree, the gang traveled to gas stations across the Bay Area in a rented Cadillac Escalade," the AG's press release stated.

Damn. The success of its case not withstanding, we give the AG's office full marks for its hard-boiled literary style.

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Peter Jamison


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