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QUINCY, Mass. -- The four men arrested this week as part of an investigation into a plot to tamper with electronic funds transfer (EFT) units, or PIN pads, in New England Stop & Shop stores have been charged with conspiracy, computer theft, computer trespass, and fraud, according to published reports.
The men, taken into custody Monday night at a Coventry, R.I. Stop & Shop after being spotted by alert associates, were identified as Arutyun Shatarevyan, 20, and Arman Teresayan, 22, both of Los Angeles; Mikael Stepanian, 28, of Studio City, Calif.; and Gevork Baldtadjian, 20, of Winnetka, Calif. Bail was set at $150,000 to $200,000.
According to authorities, the suspects allegedly removed or attempted to remove PIN pads from six of the grocer's stores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and replaced them with devices to capture shoppers' account numbers and PINs. The plan was for the men to put the original PIN pads back later.
The Coventry and Cranston, R.I. stores were the only locations were information was actually stolen, according to Stop & Shop.
Kent County prosecutor Gina Lopes said her office had learned from the U.S. Secret Service that the four men could be part of a group allegedly engaged in similar activities in such cities as Philadelphia, Las Vegas, and Miami.
According to Rhode Island attorney general Patrick C. Lynch, the accounts of at least 1,000 credit and debit cardholders have been compromised by the thefts. So far, Citizens Bank says it has suffered $100,000 in fraud losses resulting from use of the stolen information, while two credit unions have reported $15,000 in losses.
Since the thefts occurred, Stop & Shop has bolted down its PIN pads to prevent them from being removed.