Gas pump with prices. Photo by Alexander Nguyen

A Los Angeles County man was sentenced Friday to more than three years in federal prison for building card skimmers that were secretly installed at gas pumps throughout Southern California in order to steal financial information.

Robert Fichidzhyan, 40, of North Hollywood, pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court to creating electronic card skimming devices that prosecutors allege were installed at dozens of gas stations. Credit and debit card information was stolen and the defendants made unauthorized cards with that information, sold the information to others, or took the victims’ funds, according to prosecutors.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Fichidzhyan and his co-defendants stole nearly $620,000 during his involvement in the scheme. His plea agreement states he personally received nearly $250,000 for his part.

A prosecution sentencing memorandum states Fichidzhyan’s DNA linked him to a skimming device installed at a National City gas station, and his fingerprints were found on another in the Los Angeles County city of South Gate. Prosecutors said that according to electronic supplier records, Fichidzhyan ordered more than a dozen shipments of components used to build skimmers to his home before later making straw purchases of the materials.

Fichidzhyan received a 41-month sentence on Friday, was ordered to forfeit the money he received, and pay $619,923.45 along with his co-defendants in victim restitution.

One co-defendant has been sentenced to a year and one day behind bars, while another is set to be sentenced next month. Court records show that cases remain pending for five other co-defendants, while the U.S. Attorney’s Office said another co-defendant is a fugitive.


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Ellen Bullock