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Gang Convicted in 99 Cents Store ID Theft Scam

There isn't just one profile of an identity thief and scammer. Gangsters, former military employees and ex-cons turned medical billers are just a few of the people making news for being convicted, pleading guilty or being on the lam after an arrest.

Gang Leaders Convicted of Card Skimming, Extortion, ID Theft

Three men with ties to the Armenian Power gang were found guilty this month of extortion, bank fraud, identity theft and other charges related to a credit and debit card skimming scheme, according to the Department of Justice.

Armenian Power leaders Mher "Capone" Darbinyan and Arman "Horse" Sharopetrosian and their associate, Rafael Parsadanyan are awaiting sentencing for their roles in a racketeering conspiracy that included bank fraud targeting the elderly, extortion and skimming account numbers and personal data from thousands of people who used their credit or debit cards at 99 Cents Only stores throughout Southern California.

Darbinyan was found guilty of 57 criminal counts, including racketeering conspiracy, aggravated identity theft, extortion conspiracy, extortion, bank fraud, access device fraud conspiracy and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was previously convicted of felony grand theft for a 2004 debit card fraud scheme.

Sharopetrosian was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, extortion conspiracy and extortion. Prosecutors say Sharopetrosian worked with Darbinyan and others to carry out the extortion over six months, even kidnapping the victim at one point. Sharopetrosian was also accused of threatening to kill the victim to coerce him to pay more than $100,000.

Parsadanyan was convicted of 14 counts of bank fraud for his role in the 99 Cents Only Store scheme.

These defendants are just three of the 90 people charged in two 2011 indictments aimed at the Armenian Power gang. Of the 90 charged, 85 have been convicted. Two defendants are awaiting trial, while two others are fugitives. Charges against one defendant were dropped.

Darbinyan, Sharopetrosian and Parsadanyan are scheduled for sentencing in July.

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Former Soldier Pleads Guilty to Stealing Army Unit IDs 

Keith Michael Novak pleaded guilty this month to stealing identification information from soldiers in his former Army unit, Army Times reports.

Authorities say that in 2013 Novak shared information about 92 members of his former unit in exchange for money from undercover FBI employees who posed as Utah militia members. Novak also planned to use the stolen information to make fake IDs for members of his Minnesota militia, the 44th Spatha Libertas, according to prosecutors.

The investigation started after he allegedly talked about blowing up a National Security Agency facility.

Novak was an intelligence analyst with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg from 2009 to 2012 and served in Iraq in 2010. He also served as a human intelligence analyst in the Minnesota National Guard.

A sentencing date has not been set.

Ex-Con Medical Biller Accused of ID Theft At Large

Eric J. Benson is at large after police charged him in an identity theft scam targeting patients at the medical services companies he was a billing agent for, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Benson, a previously convicted felon, was charged with identity theft and stealing nearly $19,000 from patients of MRI Partners and the Orthopedic Center, both in Chesterfield, Missouri. Benson worked in collections for the two businesses on site, according to court records.

Chesterfield Police Capt. Steve Lewis told the Post-Dispatch that Benson is at large and believed to be somewhere in Florida.

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