An American man and woman plead guilty to charges of stealing more than $1 million worth of electronic products from Amazon, the internet shopping giant.
According to the Department of Justice, the married couple bought items online and then asked that they be replaced because of alleged damaged caused during shipment.
The scammers took advantage of the fact that – under certain conditions – Amazon replaces certain items before the customer returns the defective or damaged product. It is a policy the e-commerce giant has implemented to allay any reservations customers may have about ordering over the internet.
According to the investigation, when the couple received the replacement items, they were sold to an intermediary who in turn sold them to a contact who sold them at a lower price than the original.
In an attempt to avoid detection, Erin Finan and Leah Finan used hundreds of fake identities when accessing the Amazon site. Residents of Indiana, the Finans stole a variety of electronics that included tablets, GoPro video cameras, Xbox consoles and smart watches.
During the trial, the couple accepted the charges filed for postal fraud and money laundering.
While those convictions could result in a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000, the couple may seek an arrangement with Amazon to lower the sentence.
Prosecutor Josh Minkler said this type of fraud affects all consumers because companies raise prices to compensate for the losses caused by theft.
The couple will be sentenced on November 9.