2 Calif. men on trial for credit card scam

Defense: Clients had nothing to do with scam

Published  9:17 PM HST Feb 22, 2013

Two men from California on trial this week in Honolulu are accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from dozens of Hawaii drivers.

In a surveillance video, the state prosecutor says you can see the scam about to take place.

Lead investigator and federal agent Travis Taylor says the two men, 29-year-old Hakop Changryan and 39-year-old Vardan Kangramanyan, installed skimming devices at five different Aloha Mini Mart gas stations across Honolulu.

The agent says the men rented a white van to use as a cover up while they quickly open the panel and install the machines.  They're small drives that copy your bank card information when you swipe it.  They're inside the panel so you don't even know it's there.

"It took 21 seconds, I believe, to do it," said Taylor.

Federal police say the men used the stolen data in 2010 to create new bank cards and scammed nearly 200 people of $157,000.  The defense attorney for the two men say the surveillance video is too grainy and does not clearly identify their clients.

"The state has a circumstantial evidence case," said attorney William Harrison.  "We believe there is no evidence, hard and fast, that my client committed the offense."

The defense attorney says the men were in Hawaii on vacation and had nothing to do with the scam.

But, the state insists the surveillance video they have tells the whole story.

Closing arguments are set for next week.  If the men are found guilty, they could face up to 20 years in prison.

Do you want to print this page now?