Two men suspected of withdrawing over $164,000 with fraudulently-obtained unemployment benefit debit cards were arrested this month in Thousand Oaks, officials said Monday.
A resident called 911 on the afternoon of Aug. 6 when she saw two people “acting suspiciously” at a Bank of America ATM on 1440 N. Moorpark Rd., the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
Deputies responded and stopped a car just as it was leaving the area, finding two grocery bags full of cash and a large amount of Visa debit cards in different people’s names, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The driver and passenger, 18-year-old Grigor Gasparyan and 39-year-old Karapet Gasparyan, were then arrested and booked into a Ventura County jail on suspicion of identity theft, grand theft and conspiracy charges.
Investigators found that the two were using California Employment Development Department debit cards that they obtained by applying for benefits using the stolen identities of multiple victims, all of whom live outside the state, the Sheriff’s Office said.
The men then used the cards to make large ATM withdrawals from multiple locations, officials added.
With the coronavirus pandemic shuttering businesses and leaving millions without jobs, there has been a spike in fraudulent unemployment insurance claims filed with stolen identities, Ventura County officials said.
Bail for the Grigor and Karapet Gasparyan was set at $500,000 and they’re expected in court Tuesday.