Police bust phony-credit-card ring

DOWNTOWN — Two Glendale men have been charged with identity theft after detectives discovered a sophisticated credit-card-manufacturing operation in a northeast Glendale home, where hundreds of counterfeit, re-encoded cards had been produced and sold, officials said Tuesday.

Vachik Kasumyan, 61, was charged Sept. 29 with 24 counts of theft and unlawful access-card activity and transfer of identifying information, according to the criminal complaint. Kasumyan, police said, owns the hillside home where the cards were fabricated and embossed.

"This is what we consider top of the line," Glendale Police Sgt. Bob Breckenridge said of the evidence. "This guy was obviously spending a lot of money to have for his manufacturing, probably one of the best labs we have seen equipment-wise."

The second man, Virab Torosyan, 48, was charged with three counts of theft and attempted identity theft, according to the complaint. Police said he bought several pieces of the phony plastic.

Glendale Police Financial Crime detectives received information leading them to Kasumyan. This, in turn, allowed police to secure warrants in July to search his Camino San Rafael home as well as his medical supply business in La Crescenta, Det. Juvan San Miguel said.

Calls to Kasumyan's business on Tuesday were not returned.

Inside Kasumyan's home, detectives found about 1,000 produced and blank credit cards, an embossing machine, printer and computers. He had converted a portion of his three-car garage into an office, where the lab had been set up, San Miguel said.

Breckenridge said the counterfeit cards generally sell for $80 to $500, depending on the type purchased. Though police do not know where Kasumyan got the account numbers to re-encode the cards, Breckenridge said he likely bought them.

The second man arrested, Torosyan, appeared to have been a customer, police said.

Torosyan saw detectives at the business and tried to escape, but he was stopped, San Miguel said.

After answering a few questions, Torosyan allowed police to look inside his wallet, which contained a counterfeit credit card, San Miguel said.

Though he denied any connection to Kasumyan, police also found three counterfeit cards in Torosyan's name in Kasumyan's wallet, he said.

Detectives urged residents who know of any credit-card-manufacturing labs in their neighborhoods to call police.

"We get a lot of cases from patrol, where guys were arrested with one or two cards encoded, and what we are trying to do is take it to the next level," Breckenridge said. "It is to get to the people that have the labs and are re-encoding the cards and get that equipment off the street."

Torosyan and Kasumyan are expected to be arraigned Oct. 19 in the Los Angeles Superior Court in Glendale.

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