Amazon is the No. 1 online shopping destination for a reason. Not only does it offer millions of merchandise at your fingertips, it also has stellar customer service support and excellent return policies.
However, there's a certain level of merchant/customer trust that's required that makes Amazon, or any online retailer for that matter, sustainable. If a sizeable majority betrays that ethical ideal, then more stringent measures will be imposed to cut the losses or shrinkage.
Take this recent Amazon fraud case, for example, where a couple exploited Amazon's customer support and replacement policy to steal more than $1.2M worth of goods.
Amazon defective item scheme
A Muncie couple has pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering in a U.S. District Court in Indianapolis.
Erin Joseph Finan, 38, and Leah Jeanette Finan, 37, have admitted to stealing more than $1.2 million in merchandise from online shopping giant Amazon by purchasing hundreds of electronic items under “hundreds of false online identities" then falsely claiming that the items are damaged or defective.
The couple's scheme involves regularly contacting Amazon to report that the items they ordered and received, which include GoPro cameras, Xbox game consoles, and Samsung smartwatches, are faulty. They then requested and received replacements from Amazon for free.
According to the authorities, the Finans then sold the merchandise to a co-defendant named Daniel Glumac, also of Indianapolis, who in turn sold them to a still unnamed "New York entity."
The plea agreement
Interestingly, it looks like it's not even Amazon itself that spoiled the Finan party. It took a joint investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Indiana State Police before the charges against the couple were filed.
Both charges carry maximum 20-year prison terms and $500,000 fines. Additionally, under the terms of a plea agreement, the couple will be ordered to pay Amazon $1,218,504 in damages.
The plea agreement also requires the couple to waive their right to appeal if sentenced to fewer than seven years and three months in prison.
Leah Jeanette Finan was charged with theft, deception and check deception with her trial set for February 1. Her husband, Erin Joseph Finan, on the other hand, has already been convicted of check deception in Delaware County and theft in Madison County.
What do you think? Are you glad that this scheming couple has been charged? Drop us a comment!
Did you know that sellers can also fool Amazon?
Aside from consumer fraud, did you know that Amazon hackers can run their own scams too?