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2 Accused Of Skimming Credit Cards In Mountain View, Los Altos

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A Shell gas station customer pumps gas in Menlo Park (AP)

A Shell gas station customer pumps gas in Menlo Park (AP)

MOUNTAIN VIEW (CBS SF) — Two men from Southern California are facing felony charges after placing credit card skimmers inside South Bay gas pumps in December, the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

Prosecutors filed eight felony counts against Boris Tumasyan, 24, and Sarkis Sarkisyan, 23, including conspiracy, altering a computer and acquiring credit card information with the intent to defraud.

On Dec. 6, 2010, a gas station attendant in Mountain View found a small electronic device attached to the circuit board inside a gas pump and called police. Officers responded and fitted the pump with an alarm that would signal the next time it was opened and someone tried to retrieve the device, according to the district attorney’s office.

The alarm was triggered on Dec. 17, and police arrested Tumasyan and Sarkisyan after finding keys for the gas pump and information about the addresses of several other area gas stations in their van, prosecutors said.

Detectives also found six identical skimmers hidden inside gas pumps at five locations in Mountain View and Los Altos that revealed more than 3,600 credit card numbers.

Prosecutors said credit card skimmer scams have been increasing in the Bay Area over the past year, and that it is difficult for a customer to detect a pump that has been compromised.

They said it is also a tough problem to combat because many gas stations use pumps that can be opened with the same key. Gas station managers are advised to check their pumps regularly and notify police if they find anything unusual.

If convicted, the men face a maximum sentence of seven years and eight months in prison.

Tumasyan and Sarkisyan, who are both residents of Glendale, are free on bail and will return to court on April 14.

The case was investigated by REACT, a Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office-led high-tech crimes and identity theft task force.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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