Scammers have for a long time been well aware of the generous refund policy of Amazon. Some charming lines to one of the company’s agents in customer service usually will result in a full refund or at the least a replacement on something ordered with little or no questions asked.
It appears to be easier for this behemoth of a company to send out a new item rather than go through and investigate each claim that it is received.
A couple from Muncie, Indiana took its scheme of replacing items to an extreme, allegedly stealing electronics worth over $1.2 million according to a press release made by the U.S. Justice Department.
The Indiana couple, Eric and Leah Finan, was charged back in May, and recently filed guilty pleas to charges of money laundering and federal mail fraud.
By claiming that the electronics they had ordered arrived damaged, the Muncie, Indiana couple was able to land products like GoPro action cameras, Samsung smartwatches, Xbox consoles, and Surface tablets made by Microsoft, through creating hundreds of different fake identities online to conceal the crimes.
A third person, Danijel Glumac, was named as well in the indictments for acting as the broker for the Finan’s. The couple is alleged to have sold their stolen products to Glumac from a van at prices far below retail.
Glumac would then ship the items to an unnamed entity in New York for a price that was marked up, and paid the Finan’s part of his proceeds.
It appears as though the Finan’s were victims of a con as well: For the more than $1.2 million in goods they ordered and ended up not paying for on Amazon, they only received back about $725,000 from what they sold to Glumac.
It was not the FBI or Amazon that finally caught the Finan’s, but it was the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Service along with the Indiana State Police.
With their plea agreement, the couple must paid restitution of $1.22 million to Amazon and faces as many as 20 years behind bars.
Some stolen merchandise is not that big of a deal for e-commerce giant Amazon, as it recently reached $500 billion in market value, but this quite large con might serve to be quite embarrassing and a wake-up call for the company.