member of a credit The card “skimming” scheme that deceived hundreds of people in Hampton Roads was sentenced to three years and five months in prison on Wednesday.
Pavel Salkhorian, 44, was convicted in federal court in Norfolk for his role in the skimming operation, which targeted a local credit union between June and July 2018. Salkhorian pleaded guilty last year to a count charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
The fraud operation by Salkhorian and his conspirators was uncovered after the FBI began investigating skimming devices found at federal ABNB credit union ATMs in eastern Virginia, documents show. judicial. Prosecutors said Salkhorian’s role was to install skimming devices and micro-cameras – both surreptitiously placed on and inside ATMs – that can extract financial information and personal identification codes bank cards.
When ABNB customers inserted their bank cards into the bogus ATMs, they unknowingly gave Salkhorian and his conspirators access to their bank accounts. From there, the skimmers re-encoded the information onto blank cards to make withdrawals from the victims’ bank accounts.
Within a week, the operation netted $142,000 in money stolen from 220 people, according to court documents. Salkhorian was ordered to repay this amount in restitution.
Those involved in the scheme are “known and unknown,” according to court documents. An accused accomplice – Lucian Andrei Bejinaru – has been charged but remains free.
At Salkhorian’s sentencing on Wednesday, prosecutors argued the skimming fit a pattern of theft of money.
At 22, Salkhorian was convicted of attempted forgery for identity theft and attempted withdrawal of $25,000 from the victim’s account. He was convicted of stealing another person’s identity in 2017. In 2019, Salkhorian was convicted in New York for a different skimming scheme, according to court documents.
The sentences for those convictions amounted to little more than a “slap on the wrist,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Yusi said during Wednesday’s hearing.
“Nothing has stopped him so far,” Yusi said.
Salkhorian’s court-appointed lawyer – seeking a two-year sentence – argued that prosecutors exaggerated the seriousness of Salkhorian’s act of rape.
Salkhorian apologized to the victims and his family on Wednesday, saying he “will definitely try to make better choices in the future.”
In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson said the longer prison sentence was intended to deter further dishonesty. After multiple convictions, Salkhorian “should have learned how to get out of it by now,” Jackson said.
Ali Sullivan, 757-677-1974, [email protected]