Credit card arrests made

Glendale News Press

GLENDALE — San Luis Obispo County prosecutors on Tuesday were considering filing charges against four men, including three Glendale residents, arrested last week on suspicion of using fraudulent credit cards to buy goods from several stores, officials said.

Glendale residents Hamlet Ramazyan, 23, Hakob Ghazarya, 26, and Hakob Vardanyan, 29, and Khachik Mkrtchyan, 26, of North Hollywood were arrested Thursday on suspicion of commercial burglary, possessing stolen property, theft of an access card or its data and use of fraudulent access information, according to the San Luis Obispo Police Department.

Police officials presented evidence Tuesday morning to prosecutors, who were reviewing possible charges against the men, according to the county district attorney's office.

While police seized numerous credit and identification cards allegedly belonging to other people, the men told detectives that their cards were legitimate, Police Capt. Chris Staley said.

"I don't think they were real overly honest about most things," he said.

The four men were likely part of a fraudulent credit card operation stealing account numbers and selling the information to others, Staley said.

The men likely used the account information to buy pricey items and sell them on the black market, he said.

On Thursday, they drove along the Ventura (101) Freeway, stopped at four major stores just off the highway and used the fraudulent credit cards to buy electronics, Staley said.

They made several large purchases with different credit cards before moving on to stores in Santa Maria, Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo, police said.

Soon after the purchases, police said they received calls from the businesses about the men using fraudulent cards.

Employees had described the same suspects and vehicle in each incident, police said.

Police detectives found them the same day parked at a Home Depot in San Luis Obispo.

Witnesses later identified the men as having used the fraudulent credit cards to buy items at their stores, police said.

"It happens, unfortunately, quite often," Staley said.

The men were arrested and booked at San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Department jail in lieu of a $20,000 bond, police said.

Authorities seized the vehicles and recovered video games, cell phones and other electronics, he said.

Detectives have been investigating whether the men were tied to other incidents in which fraudulent credit cards were used, Staley said.

Glendale police will also look into the credit card fraud to determine whether any of the victims of ID theft were local, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

In many burglaries, thieves often use credit cards stolen from purses and wallets from cars and gyms to commit identity fraud, he said.

Staley advised retailers to ask for identification when someone uses a credit card.

Card users should also use the credit option when making a purchase because identity thieves won't have access to the account number, he said.

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