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Burbank residents deny fraud charges

BURBANK -- Three Burbank residents have pleaded not guilty to taking

part in an alleged credit card and counterfeit fraud ring that was busted

in an FBI sting.

The three Burbank suspects were arrested Nov. 23 along with 14 others

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in the Los Angeles area. FBI officers say those arrested were linked to

an undercover sting that was set up in a Santa Monica storefront. There,

the U.S. attorney’s office said, FBI operatives purchased more than $1

million in stolen and counterfeit bank checks and more than 100

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counterfeit credit cards.

Dany Joe Georges, 29, and his wife, Caroline Arabian Georges, 26, are

accused of five counts of trafficking in counterfeit credit cards, said

Asst. U.S. Atty. Chris Johnson. Antranik Keymetlian, 63, also known as

Tony Keey, is accused of possessing counterfeit currency and counterfeit

checks.

All three denied the charges Monday in U.S. District Court.

Dany Georges was released on $50,000 bond and his wife, Caroline was

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released on $25,000, Johnson said. On Tuesday, Johnson was unsure if

Keymetlian had posted his $25,000 bond.

Officials said the Georges sold counterfeit credit cards to undercover

FBI agents at the Santa Monica store. The credit card numbers were

legitimate but the cards were fake, Johnson said.

Though he would not go into detail about how the credit cards are made

or how the Georges obtained their credit card numbers, Johnson said

crooks can sometimes get numbers from machines used by businesses.

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The couple own the Middle East Connection restaurant on Burbank

Boulevard, but it was unclear if that is where the numbers originated, he

said.

“They (the thief) keep some of the numbers they run through and then

sell or give the information to some compatriot,” Johnson said.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Dany Georges said he was instructed by his

attorney to not comment on the charges. Georges said he does not own the

11-year-old restaurant, saying he was its manager.

Keymetlian allegedly sold FBI agents counterfeit cashier’s checks. The

checks -- often for businesses -- were in increments from $20 to $50,

Johnson said.

FBI officials said the investigation initially started looking into

credit card fraud but once the undercover business front was set up,

agents began purchasing a variety of contraband, ranging from counterfeit

checks to drugs, Johnson said. One person even solicited a murder for

hire, he added.


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