Scammers have long been aware of Amazon’s generous refund policy. A little sweet talking with a customer service agent usually gets you a refund or replacement on an order with very few questions asked. It seems it’s easier for the massive company to send a new item than investigate every claim it gets.
A couple in Muncie, Indiana decided to take the scheme too far, allegedly stealing $US1.2 million worth of electronics, according to a Department of Justice press release.
The couple, Eric Finan and Leah Finan, were charged in May, and recently pleaded guilty to federal mail fraud and money laundering.
By claiming the electronics they ordered had shown up damaged, the couple scored GoPro cameras, Xbox game consoles, Samsung smartwatches, and Microsoft Surface tablets by creating hundreds of fake online identities to conceal their crimes.
A third man, Danijel Glumac, was also named in the case for acting as the Finan’s broker. The Finans allegedly sold Glumac their stolen items out of a van for below retail prices. Glumac then shipped the items to an unnamed New York entity for a marked up price, and paid the Finans a cut of the proceeds.
It sounds like the Finans might have gotten conned themselves: For all $US1.2 million worth of goods they ordered on Amazon, they only got $US725,000 back from Glumac.
The Finans were finally caught — not by Amazon, but by the IRS, US Postal Service, and the Indiana State Police. With the plea agreement, the Finans will be ordered to pay $US1,218,504 in restitution to Amazon, according to USA Today. They also face up to 20 years in prison.
A bit of stolen merchandise is no big deal for Amazon — it recently hit a market value of $US500 billion — but the snafu may serve as a rather embarrassing wake-up call for the retail giant.