As reported by The Star Press, Erin Joseph Finan and Leah Jeanette Finan, 38 and 37-years-old respectively, recently pleaded guilty to the theft in front of a judge at the US District Court in Indianapolis.
The Finans purchased countless items from the e-retailer using hundreds of fake online identities. The items they purchased included games consoles, smartwatches, and digital cameras, such as the Microsoft Xbox One and GoPro cameras. After a time, they would report to Amazon that the products were damaged or broken, and were able to receive replacement items at no charge.
These items were then sold to co-defendant Danijel Glumac, who flogged them to an unnamed "New York entity," and the so-called defective items were never returned.
Missing, damaged, and lost items are likely a continual problem for Amazon. While some retailers would insist on receiving signatures for all items of high value or the return of broken devices before a refund or replacement is issued, the retail giant deals with such vast delivery numbers, third-party sellers, and worldwide distribution which makes such checks difficult.
As a result, pretending an item has not arrived or was damaged in transit could be used to defraud the company.
However, this does not mean Amazon is not aware of the tactics used, and in the Finans case, as eventually, their scheme was brought to light following an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, US Postal Inspection Service, and Indiana State Police.
The couple resigned themselves to a plea agreement in the hopes of reducing the maximum sentence for theft and deception, which can carry a 20-year maximum jail term and up to $500,000 in fines.
They have agreed to pay back Amazon $1,218,504 to make up for the stolen goods, and they have also waived their right to appeal if their sentences are less than seven years and three months in prison.