California Man Sentenced to Over Six Years in Prison For Credit Card-Skimming Fraud Scheme

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PHILADELPHIA – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Verzh Movsisyan, 43, of Glendale, CA, was sentenced to six years and three months in prison, five years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $599,000 in restitution by U.S. District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond for his involvement in a theft scheme using stolen debit card information.

The defendant pleaded guilty in June 2020 to charges of conspiracy, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering. Movsisyan and his six co-defendants were charged for their involvement in a scheme to steal money from victims’ bank accounts by making fraudulent ATM withdrawals and money order purchases in multiple states with stolen debit card numbers. The victims’ debit card numbers were obtained by members of the scheme through illegally installed devices on gas station pumps, known as ‘skimmers’, that captured the victims’ debit card numbers and Personal Identification Numbers when they used their debit cards at gas stations to purchase gas. The skimming devices were installed on pumps at gas stations throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

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Movsisyan is the second defendant to be sentenced; one co-defendant was previously sentenced in March 2020 to over three years in prison, two co-defendants are scheduled to be sentenced in August and September 2021, and the three remaining co-defendants are scheduled for trial in September 2021.

“This fraud utilized nearly-undetectable technology to take advantage of victims as they went about the business of their daily lives,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams. “Being victimized in this way is an alarming violation because there is nothing a victim can do to prevent or stop it. I want to thank the many agents and investigators who worked tirelessly to uncover this scheme and help our Office seek justice for victims.”

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“Skimming is an insidious crime, with perpetrators taking advantage of people just going about their everyday business,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “The victims of this scheme never imagined that filling up their gas tanks could empty out their bank accounts. The FBI will continue to work with our partners to identify, track down, and take down criminal groups siphoning off other people’s money and personal information.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Philadelphia Organized Crime Task Force, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the United States Secret Service, the Newark, Delaware Police Department, the Borough of Wyomissing, Pennsylvania Police Department, and the Bensalem, Pennsylvania Township Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney K.T. Newton.

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An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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