A 30-year-old Los Angeles County man who pleaded guilty last summer to using an electronic skimmer to steal account information from customers at a Chase bank branch in La Quinta was back behind bars Friday for allegedly doing the same thing again at the same branch.
Vahe Ruben Yerkanyan of Sun Valley was arrested at 11:30 a.m. Thursday in Palm Springs, culminating a "lengthy investigation" by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department into card skimming thefts in September 2013, sheriff's Sgt. Randy Vasquez said.
Yerkanyan was on probation for pleading guilty last July to felony charges stemming from similar incidents at Chase branches in La Quinta and Palm Desert in May, according to the sheriff's department and court records.
Sheriff's Deputy Armando Munoz said Yerkanyan was released from custody shortly before the alleged thefts in September.
Vasquez said Yerkanyan is suspected of installing an electronic skimming device and hidden camera on an ATM at the Chase branch at 78-805 Highway 111 in La Quinta on Sept. 15, 2013.
"Bank account information was stolen from several Chase bank customers. This information was then used to fraudulently withdraw over $9,000 in cash at banks in the Los Angeles area," Vasquez alleged.
On May 14, 2013, Yerkanyan was arrested at the Chase branch at 74-930 Country Club Drive in Palm Desert, where he was trying to use the stolen information to get cash. Sheriff's Sgt. Steve DaSilva said that two days before the arrest was made, Yerkanyan went into a vestibule at the La Quinta Chase at 78-805 Highway 111 on three occasions, installing and removing a skimming device.
On July 22, 2013, Yerkanyan pleaded guilty to one count each of burglary, forging an access card and using personal information to obtain credit and was immediately sentenced to 270 days in custody and three years probation. He was also ordered to pay a total of about $4,500 in restitution to six victims, according to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.
Under the plea deal, 13 other counts were dismissed.
On Thursday, Yerkanyan was booked into the county jail in Indio on suspicion of identity theft, burglary, theft of bank account information and probation violation, and is being held in lieu of $25,000 bail. He is expected to be arraigned Monday at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, according to jail records.
Anyone with more information on the investigation was asked to contact sheriff's Investigator Ken Willow at (760) 863-8461.
— City News Service.