Man arrested in ATM skimming scheme

Argishti Khachaturyan (left) and Armen Apoyan (right).
Argishti Khachaturyan (left) and Armen Apoyan (right).

One of two suspects in an ATM skimming scheme perpetrated in Honolulu in February has been arrested in Los Angeles, according to Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro.

Authorities arrested Argishti Khachaturyan, 33, on Tuesday. Khachaturyan and Armen Apoyan, 33, were indicted on Aug. 20 by a secret Oahu grand jury on charges on conspiracy and identity theft. Apoyan remains at large.

The indictment, which was unsealed Wednesday, alleges that the two arrived in Honolulu from Los Angeles on Feb. 21 and later installed an “overlay skimming device” over the card reader slot of a Central Pacific Bank ATM located at 2250 Kalakaua Avenue. The device was left on the ATM for three days and captured account information of everyone who used the ATM.

Khachaturyan and Apoyan then made counterfeit ATM cards and withdrew money from compromised accounts at an ATM located at The Modern Hotel at 1775 Ala Moana Boulevard, and several other ATMs in Honolulu and California.

The defendants, who returned to California on Feb. 25, caused financial losses in excess of $20,000, the threshold for first-degree identity theft. If convicted, the two face automatic prison terms of up to 20 years.

The prosecution of this case resulted from a six-month joint investigation conducted by the United States Secret Service and Honolulu Police Department. The FBI’s Eastern European Organized Crime Task Force, United States Marshals, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the United States Social Security Administration assisted.

Central Pacific Bank and First Hawaiian Bank also cooperated fully with law enforcement.

“Today’s indictment is further evidence that law enforcement in Hawaii takes identity theft very seriously and will continue to pursue and prosecute these criminals wherever they may flee,” Kaneshiro said. “Earlier this year, we prosecuted two men for installing ‘skimming devices’ inside gas pumps at local gas stations. Those two, Akop Changryan and Vardan Kagramanyan, are now serving 20-year sentences.”

Like Changryan and Kangramanyan, the indictment alleges that Khachaturyan and Apoyan traveled here for the purpose of targeting Honolulu residents and businesses.

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