Artak Martikian. [Note from the Editor: A photo of Arman Martikian was removed from this page on May 27, 2011 following confirmation that prosecution against him was not pursued. Investigators allege that Artak Martikian used a car registered to his brother, and in at least one case the identity of Arman Martikian, in the course of committing identity fraud against others.]
Several residents of the Mountain Communities reported identity theft incidents early in 2009 after purchasing gasoline in Lebec.
Photographs of those who have been seen allegedly placing credit card “skimming” devices in self service gas station card readers from Los Angeles through Bakersfield were released by Bakersfield Police Department (BPD) Tuesday, Dec. 29.
Investigators for BPD have identified two of the suspects using stolen credit card information through recently reported skimming device operation at local gas stations. The suspects are identified as: Artak Martikian (described as also a male of Armenian decent, 5’5”, 150 pounds, dark shaved hair, mustache and goatee) and Arman Martikian (described as a male of Armenian decent, 5’6”, 150 pounds, dark shaved hair, clean shaven).
September 2010 update: Charges against Arman Martikian have been dropped by Bakersfield Police Department. Detective Steve Miller told reporters for The Mountain Enterprise that Artak used a car registered to Arman Martikian, causing his brother to be implicated in this investigation.
They are possibly driving a silver 2002 Ford Taurus with California license number 4WVC975.
Both are wanted for an arrest warrant charging five counts of burglary at a local store using stolen credit card information through a skimming device from a service station in Simi Valley.
The Martikians are believed to be part of a ring which travels up and down the state installing skimming devices inside gas pump housings.
Unsuspecting customers who swipe their credit and debit cards at the pump to pay for gas later learn that the information on the card has been captured by the skimming device.
The information is then retrieved manually by the suspects or, in some cases, wirelessly downloaded from a nearby location. Suspects then apply the credit card account number to a blank card and make purchases on the card in other cities.
Surveillance photos of Artak Martikian making a purchase with stolen credit card information at a Target in Bakersfield have been secured.
Bakersfield Police are working with other agencies to identify and arrest other ring members. The Martikians are believed to be nomadic but have a last known address in Los Angeles.
Anyone with more information regarding the whereabouts of either suspect is encouraged to call BPD Detective Scott Miller at (661) 326-3552.
This is part of the January 01, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
Have an opinion on this matter? We'd like to hear from you.