The couple, Erin Joseph (38 ) and Leah Finan ( 37 ) from Munice, India have admitted to stealing more than $1.2 million from Amazon, using the company’s return system as well as a network of fake online accounts to defraud the online retailer for years.
They have pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering in a U.S District Court in Indianapolis.
Amazon has a generous return or replacement policy, which is designed for customer service and to keep the customer happy while keeping tabs on replacing items too often. Amazon has an automated system that monitors customer accounts for an unusually high number of claims, which can also spark an investigation.
According to reports, the Finans purchased hundreds of electronic items such as GoPros and smartwatches from Amazon, using a plethora of fake identities. They would then report the items as damaged or missing to Amazon, which the company would then ship out a replacement. The Finans then would follow through by selling the items through a third party company, which would then establish the couple a healthy profit in the making.
In this case, the Internal Revenue Service, U.S Postal Inspection Service, and Indiana State Police all collaborated to bust the scheme.
The court ordered the Finans to repay over $1.2 million in damages to Amazon. If the couple was making their money reselling smartwatches and Xboxes- which average around $500 for the more expensive packages- that’s well over 2000 items fraudulently taken from Amazon’s refund system, which is designed for the customer and their experience.