Tag Archives: Eduard Arakelyan

California Woman Pleads Guilty Over Michaels Retailer Cards Theft

Posted by Daphine Llosa.

The current legal issue relates to conspiracy and breach. A conspiracy is an agreement by two or more parties to commit a crime to do something unlawful or harmful. A breach is an act of breaking or failing to observe a law or agreement. On Tuesday, November 17, 2015, Crystal Banuelos pleaded guilty of a conspiracy to attain personal information and commit cards theft from Michaels Companies Incorporated’s customers. Michaels is an arts and crafts, custom framing, home décor and seasonal products store. Prior to this case, there was another prosecution where Eduard Arakelyan (age of 24) and Arman Vardanyan (age of 26) were charged for being involved in a breach. This breach was discovered in 2011 where devices were installed on point-of-sale terminals so they may obtain Michaels’ customers’ personal information as well as bank account numbers. Both individuals pleaded guilty three years ago for stealing from 952 debit cards; they were sentenced for five years of prison.

Crystal Banuelos, the 28 year old California woman, had participated in a conspiracy to acquire 94,000 credit and debit card numbers. It took Banuelos around four months to admit to her charges and plead guilty in the federal court in Camden, New Jersey. CNBC mentioned that the prosecutors found that the individuals involved in the conspiracy had replaced close to 90 of the point-of-sale terminals in 80 different Michaels stores in “19 states with counterfeit devices that were equipped with wireless technology.” They used these counterfeit devices to acquire customers’ personal identification number information as well as any additional information that they may have found useful for their theft. Crystal Banuelos, along with others, had managed to create an exact imitation of these debit cards using the stolen information they gathered when they applied the counterfeit devices. They were able to obtain and collect more than $420,000 by withdrawing from automated teller machines. Two of the defendants, Angel Angulo and Crystal Banuelos, had 179 of these imitated cards in New Jersey. Some of the banks that were affected include: Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Wells Fargo & Co, etc. It has been announced that Crystal Banuelo’s sentence is scheduled to be on February 23, 2016.

Daphne is a graduate accounting with a certification in forensic accounting at the Feliciano School of Business, Montclair State University, Class of 2016.