PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – A California man has been sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison for his role in a criminal ring that stole financial information from Stop & Shop customers and used it to illegally siphon $132,000 from shoppers.
Arutyun Shatarevyan, 20, of Los Angeles previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy and identity fraud. As an Armenian immigrant, he will probably face deportation, his defense attorney, Alex Kessel, said.
Shatarevyan and three other California men were arrested in Coventry on Feb. 26 as they attempted to perform the scheme at a supermarket check-out lane.
Investigators say the men would enter supermarkets late at night, distract the cashier and swap a PIN pad with an alternate machine that recorded each customer’s financial data. They could swap the equipment in as little as 12 seconds, prosecutors said.
After a while, the men would return, retrieve the machines and harvest the credit and debit card information. At least six supermarkets in Rhode Island and Massachusetts were targeted, and 238 people lost money.
One co-defendant, Mikael Stepanian, 28, had a laptop inside his hotel room that allowed him to create ATM cards using information downloaded from the PIN pad machines. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 6.
Two other defendants already have received prison terms for their role in the plot. Arman Ter-Esayan was sentenced to six years in federal prison, while Gevork Baltadjian was ordered to serve just over five years.
Stop & Shop is a unit of Royal Ahold.
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