OAKLAND -- Two men who were part of a conspiracy using fake keypads to steal 94,000 personal identification numbers from customers at a national chain of craft stores were each sentenced to five years in federal prison Tuesday, prosecutors said.
Eduard Arakleyan, 21, of North Hollywood, and Arman Vardanyan, 23, of Montebello, each pleaded guilty in March to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. The conspiracy targeted 84 Michaels stores nationwide, according to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag.
No Michaels stores in California were targeted in the scheme, according to store officials. The defendants were tried in the Northern District of California because they had used the stolen bank information to make withdrawals at Bay Area branches.
The fake keypads were equipped with Bluetooth technology that allowed the conspirators to collect and transmit PIN codes wirelessly once they were installed, according to the indictment.
The pair had almost 1,000 counterfeit bank cards, with PINs written on each one, and used them to steal more than $56,000 in cash from banks around the Bay Area, according to the indictment. They used the counterfeit card at least one Bay Area bank: a Citibank branch in Pleasant Hill.
Arakleyan and Vardanyan committed their fraudulent withdrawals from May 2011 until they were arrested in July 2011, according to the indictment. The pair
The U.S. attorney's office would not release information about the other conspirators in the case.
Contact Daniel M. Jimenez at 510-262-2728. Follow him at Twitter.com/DMJreports.