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Thirteen charged in New York for ID theft from fuel pumps

By Karen Freifeld

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Thirteen people were indicted for swiping credit card and ATM information from gas pumps in Texas, Georgia and South Carolina, and using the data to steal more than $2 million using ATMS and banks in New York, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced on Tuesday.

Members of the alleged identity theft ring installed Bluetooth-enabled skimming devices at the pumps so the data could be retrieved without removing the devices, Vance said.

The case is the latest evidence of credit card skimming at gas stations. Similar scams have been reported across the United States, in states including Florida, Oklahoma and Utah.

In the New York case, the stolen data was encoded onto forged cards used to withdraw cash at ATMs in Manhattan, Vance said in a statement.

The cash was then deposited into bank accounts enabling others to withdraw the money from banks in California and Nevada, the statement said.

"These defendants are accusing of fueling the fastest growing crime in the country," Vance said in a statement.

Four of the defendants were first charged in March: Garegin Spartalyan, 40, Aram Martirosian, 34, and Davit Kudugulyan, 42, all of Las Vegas, and Hayk Dzhandzhapanyan, 40, of Whittier, California.

Two of the men were arrested inside ATM vestibules while withdrawing money from victims' checking accounts, authorities said.

Lawyers for the men declined comment or could not be reached for comment.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)

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