Scammers have long been aware of Amazon’s generous refund policy. A little sweet talking with customer service agent bascially gets you a refund or replacement on an order with very few or no questions asked.
A couple in Muncie, Indiana decided to take the scheme too much far, allegedly stealing $1.2 million worth of electronics. According to a report from Department of Justice press release.
Erin Finan, 38, and Leah Finan, 37, enacted their scheme by taking advantage of Amazon’s accommodating returns policy. Which usually does not always require a broken item be sent back before a replacement is issued.
The couple, Eric Finan and Leah Finan, were charged in May, and now recently pleaded guilty to federal mail fraud and also for money laundering.
Indiana couple pleads guilty to stealing $1.2 million from Amazon
Under hundreds of false identities, the couple ordered electronic goods like GoPro cameras and Samsung smartwatches.Then would claim that the item was damaged or not working once they received it. By creating hundreds of fake online identities in order to conceal their crimes. Amazon would then issue a replacement, but they would never send back the item they reported as defective.
A third man, Danijel Glumac, was also named in the case for acting as the Finan’s broker. Danijel Glumac, helped the couple move the stolen items and then also advised them on how to stay unnoticed by Amazon.
The Finans allegedly sold Glumac their stolen items out of a van for below retail prices. Glumac then shipped those items to an unnamed New York entity for a marked up price, and paid the Finans a cut of the proceeds.
It simply sounds like the Finans might have gotten conned themselves. For all $1.2 million worth of goods that they ordered on Amazon, they only got $725,000 back from Glumac.
The couple was then eventually caught – not by Amazon, but by a joint investigation conducted by the Internal Revenue Service. The United States Postal Inspection Service, and also by the Indiana State Police. With the plea agreement, the Finans will be ordered to pay $1,218,504 in restitution to Amazon. They also have to face up to 20 years in prison.
A bit of stolen merchandise is no big deal for retail giant. It recently hit a market value of $500 billion. But the snafu may serve as a rather embarrassing wake-up call for Amazon.