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DENVER PAIR ARRESTED ON FRAUD CHARGE

AURORA, Colo.-Two people were arrested for their alleged involvement in a cellular telephone cloning scam.

Sarkis Bitaryan and Eleanora Chepshyan were arrested, processed and released pending an additional investigation, said Alan Geary of the Aurora Police Department. The police department is expected to charge the couple this week with a class 3 felony for theft exceeding $15,000.

According to a court affidavit, the couple racked up $30,000 in airtime on cellular networks within the five-day period investigators were monitoring the couple. Aurora police confiscated cloned cellular phones and equipment used to place illegal long-distance cellular calls to countries throughout the world.

AirTouch Cellular said its fraud analysts identified unusually high volumes of call activity on several cellular phone numbers from the New Mexico area and in Colorado and determined most of the calls were routed internationally.

“AirTouch Cellular takes the theft of cellular service very seriously, and we have had a great deal of success targeting individual cloning operations,” said Virginia Mott, vice president and area general manager for AirTouch Cellular in the Front Range area. “These arrests mark another step in our battle against fraud.”

Nationally, fraud is costing cellular carriers more than $600 million a year.

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