Two brothers and another man stole more than US$2mil (RM9.41mil) from Amazon by conning the company into issuing them a series of refunds, federal prosecutors said.
Their illegal scheme – involving false claims of lost merchandise that was never actually missing – have landed all three men, from Connecticut, in federal prison, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut.
A 27-year-old man of Bridgeport, accused of stealing the highest amount from Amazon, was sentenced to nine months in prison on Sept 28 for defrauding the company, the attorney’s office announced in a news release.
He stole US$1,063,762 (RM5mil) from Amazon between 2016 and 2018, prosecutors said in his sentencing memorandum.
His defense attorney declined a request for comment from McClatchy News on Sept 28.
The man’s brother, a 31-year-old man of Shelton, was sentenced to one year and six months in prison on Sept 5 for defrauding Amazon out of US$742,231 (RM3.49mil), the attorney’s office announced in an earlier news release.
A judge sentenced a third man, a 28-year-old of Bridgeport, to five months in prison on Sept 27 for defrauding Amazon out of US$210,836 (RM991,983), the attorney’s office announced in a news release that day.
McClatchy News contacted defense attorneys representing the two defendants for comment on Sept 28 and didn’t receive immediate responses.
In regards to these two men, prosecutors wrote in sentencing memorandums that they both had “one aim: take money that belonged to Amazon and make it (their) own”.
How the scheme worked
All three men carried out their illegal scheme separately, but similarly, between 2016 and 2018, according to their sentencing memos.
They took advantage of how Amazon allows third-party vendors to create accounts with the company to sell merchandise through Amazon, prosecutors said.
The men created vendor accounts under false names and represented to Amazon that they wanted to sell expensive electronics, including external hard drives, on Amazon.com, according to the sentencing memos.
As a result, Amazon would send them shipping labels so they could mail their merchandise to an Amazon Fulfillment centre, prosecutors explained.
When third party vendors ship merchandise to an Amazon Fulfillment center, Amazon stores it, lists it for sale online until a consumer buys it – resulting in the vendor getting paid, prosecutors detailed in the sentencing memo.
Instead of shipping merchandise to Amazon, the men sent “empty parcels or worthless items”, the sentencing memos say.
Then, they “would later falsely claim (their items) had been lost, supporting (their) false claims with fabricated documents”, prosecutors said in the releases.
Amazon issued the men several refunds for the “lost” merchandise – until the company recognised it was being defrauded, the sentencing memo says.
The man accused of stealing US$742,231 (RM3.49mil) from Amazon maintained he carried out the scheme while his mother was sick and hoped to support her financially, according to his sentencing memo.
However, prosecutors said records show he spent some of the money to buy a property in Jamaica and “‘lost much of’ the rest ‘on stock trading’”.
The man accused of stealing US$210,836 (RM991,983) from the company said he carried out the theft because he “was working low-paying jobs that he disliked”, prosecutors wrote in his sentencing memo.
“His get-rich-quick solution was to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from Amazon, then invest it along lines recommended by some dubious Internet personality who professed to his acolytes that ‘working a 9-5 job isn’t the right way to live life to the fullest’,” prosecutors added.
A judge ordered all three men to pay the same amount they’re accused of stealing from Amazon in restitution as part of their sentences, according to the news releases. – The Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service