Fremont police have arrested four Los Angeles County men for alleged debit card skimming and for being involved in a transnational criminal organization, officials say.
On Jan. 14, a Fremont police officer saw 29-year-old Iurii Osetskyi of Studio City allegedly making multiple transactions at a Wells Fargo ATM on Mowry Avenue.
The officer contacted Osetskyi and discovered that he allegedly had about $3,800 in twenty dollar bills and over 25 various gift cards, but no ATM card. Each card was wrapped in an amount of money with the corresponding ATM transaction receipt, police said.
Later that night, 37-year-old Denys Osetskyi of Studio City contacted Fremont police to report his brother Iurii missing. Dispatchers told him they would send officers to the motel where he was staying to take a police report.
When officers arrived they detained him pending a search of the motel room and Iurii's vehicle. During the search police allegedly recovered multiple cards, cash and electronics that led officers to identify three more suspects who remain outstanding, police said.
According to police, the gift cards were later found to have recorded on them the debit card numbers and PINs of multiple victims from around the Bay Area, but mostly from the town of Crockett.
Police suspect the cards were compromised when used as payment at gas station pumps.
Evidence indicates that Iurii, Denys and the other three outstanding suspects traveled from Los Angeles County to the Bay Area to use the cloned debit cards in the same region where they were originally skimmed, police said.
Both men were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy, identity theft and computer intrusion.
Then on Feb. 27, Fremont police detectives spotted a suspicious Land Rover with no license plates. Detectives stopped the Land Rover and contacted the driver, 27-year-old Vasiliy Polyak of Montebello. Police determined he is related to one of the suspects in the Osetskyi case.
Detectives searched his car and allegedly found nine Bluetooth enabled gas pump skimming devices, cloned debit cards and components to build additional skimming devices, police said.
Later, detectives saw him being picked up at a shopping center near the Police Department by a person in a Mercedes-Benz. Detectives stopped the vehicle and contacted the driver, 49-year-old Artak Harutyunyan of North Hollywood, who was found to be on felony searchable probation from Los Angeles County for skimming and identity theft.
Detectives searched his car and learned he was staying at a nearby motel. When officers searched his motel room, they allegedly recovered additional skimming devices, cash and more than 125 cloned debit cards, police said.
Polyak and Harutyunyan were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy, identity theft, computer intrusion, and possessing skimming devices, police said.
According to police, the suspects in both cases have possible ties to a transnational criminal organization with roots in the greater Los Angeles County area.
Officials ask that consumers check bank and credit card statements often for any unusual purchases, and try to pay with cash when possible.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Adam Foster at (510) 790-6900 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.