A married couple's million-dollar Amazon scam has officially come to a close with their pleading guilty to federal mail fraud and money laundering charges.
Erin and Leah Finan, both 38, ran a variety of scams in the Muncie-Anderson area of Indiana where they lived. These ran the gamut from bounced checks to stealing high-end rental softball equipment and selling it on Facebook groups for parents of children. But the most successful of these appears to have been one taking advantage of Amazon's return policies on electronics.
Between 2014 and 2016, the Finans bought thousands of high-end electronics on the site, which has recorded over its last 11 quarters. These items GoPro digital cameras, Microsoft Xboxes, Samsung smartwatches, Microsoft Surface tablets, and Apple Macbooks.
Once the products came, the Finans would complain. They'd falsely claim that the electronics they ordered were damaged or not working. Taking advantage of lenient returns policy that did not always require a returned item be sent back before a replacement is issued, they would then request and receive replacements from Amazon at no charge.
The pair then sold off the items through a fence, a third party named Danijel Glumac who would sell the items below market price. It was a clever exploitation of a weakness in Amazon's established rules, though one with the requirement of a little bit of actual fraud.
In a , the U.S Attorney's Office says that the couple's "Amazon scheme was their 'job.' It involved placing thousands of Amazon orders, creating hundreds of false identities, retrieving their stolen goods from retail shipping stores all over Indiana, and selling them to their fence, Glumac, on a near-daily basis."
The pair stole over 2,000 items from Amazon. They made roughly $750,000 through the process.
But when Erin and Leah were given 71- and 68-month sentences, respectively, it was clear that the run was over. Glumac also pleaded guilty to making almost $500,000 from fencing and is facing 24 months of jail time.
“Consumer fraud not only unjustly enriches the perpetrator, it causes all of us to pay higher retail prices,” says United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler in the press release. “To those who seek to exploit the convenience of online shopping through fraud, remember this case. You will be caught. You will be prosecuted. And you will go to federal prison for a long time.”