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Benicia Police Department
Wednesday March 3rd, 2010 :: 01:32 p.m. PST


Benicia Police Follow Up on Martinez PD Fraud Arrest, Two to be charged in Benicia Fraud Cases

On the heels of an outstanding fraud arrest by the Martinez Police Department, Benicia police detectives are working with Martinez detectives and the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office to prosecute the two individuals arrested in Martinez for as many as 24 fraud crimes committed in Benicia.

Last Thursday, February 25th, 7-11 workers in Benicia found a "skimming device" installed in a gas pump at the business at 500 Military East. In mid to late November of 2009, Benicia residents and others who used their ATM and PIN numbers to get gas at the business subsequently were victims of bank fraud. Benicia police at the time suspected that a skimming device had been used at one of the pumps to obtain ATM numbers and PIN numbers from customers. Once the numbers were obtained, the suspects would take cash out of the victims account from ATM's in the area. From Benicia cases, using ATM's in Benicia and the surrounding area, the suspects were able to withdraw over $25,000 in cash.

Upon finding the skimming device last Thursday, Benicia police believed the same suspects had returned to the area. On the same day, Benicia police learned that Martinez police had also been notified of a similar device at a 7-11 gas pump in their city. Eventually, Martinez police conducted a surveillance and arrested two people who had returned to remove the device (Note: The Martinez Gazette ran two stories on the arrest with photos of the suspects. The stories have not been posted on line as of this release).

Martinez police arrested Zhirayr Zamanyan, a 30 year old Victorville resident, and 31 year old David Karapetyan from Los Angeles. From photographs taken at the ATM's, Benicia police believe Zamanyan used a victims card at Bank of America in Benicia during the late November theft spree.

On Tuesday, March 2nd, Benicia Detective Gregg Rouse met with the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office to review the various Benicia cases. State law allows identity theft crimes to be prosecuted in any county, not necessarily the one in which the crime occurred. Evidence collected during the Martinez investigation has connected the pair to the 7-11 in Benicia. "Our detective had a very positive meeting with both Martinez PD and the DA's office," Benicia Police Lieutenant Mike Daley said. "At this time, the Contra Costa County DA's office has identified thirteen (13) of our cases they will prosecute. Our detectives are continuing to work on the other eleven and we're hopeful that eventually these two will face charges on all of our fraud cases from last November."

Since the November fraud thefts, Benicia police have not received any similar reports. "There's no doubt the recovery of these two skimming devices prevented another 50 or more people in our two communities from being victims of fraud. This was great police work by Martinez police," Lt. Daley added.

Benicia residents who got gas at 7-11 in Benicia in mid to late November are encouraged to check their banking statements to see if any fraudulent withdrawals are listed. If they suspect this, they should contact their banking institution to verify the fraud and can also contact Benicia Police Detective Gregg Rouse at (707)746-4251.

Any questions relative to this press release, contact Benicia Police Lt. Mike Daley at (707)590-4259 or respond via e-mail. Below is a press release issued today by the Martinez Police Department that has been authorized for us to include.

EVENT: Charges Filed - Identity Theft & Gas Pump Skimming.
DATE: 03/03/10
LOCATION: 530 Morello Avenue, Martinez

David Karapetyan
Zhirayr Zamanyan

This press release is an update on the continuing investigation related to the arrest of two subjects who are involved in the theft of credit and debit cards, by the use of skimmers placed inside gas pumps.

On 03/02/10 the Martinez Police Department and the Benicia Police Department presented this case to the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office. Based on this preliminary investigation, the suspects were charged with (32) counts of identity theft and (1) count of criminal conspiracy, as well as enhancements. It is expected the number of charges will rise as more victims come forward and after the seized skimmers are analyzed. Additionally, other police departments have not presented their cases to the D.A.'s Office.

As of this date, (11) skimmers have been located from gas pumps in the cities of Sacramento, Benicia, Martinez, Livermore, Hayward, Oakland and San Mateo.

Both suspects are still in custody in the Contra Costa County Jail System and should be arraigned on 03/03/10.

The Martinez Police Department has also identified three additional persons involved in these crimes and warrants are anticipated in the next several days.

The investigation is continuing.

Any questions can be directed to Detective Mike Estanol @ 925-372-3452 or Sgt. Jon Sylvia @ 925-372-3450.

Benicia Police Department
200 East L Street
Benicia, CA 94510

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 707-745-3411

Michael Daley

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