A crafty Amazon shopper developed a scheme to make some money off the multinational conglomerate.
The plot involved Hudson Hamrick, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, who purchased expensive items through Amazon and then initiated returns.
One problem: the items Hamrick sent back to Amazon were not the items he bought. Instead, Hamrick sent back similar, cheaper items as the returns. On occasion, he went on to sell the original item to get both the return and resale value.
He did this for five years and was estimated to accumulate over $290,000 in total fraud.
U.S. attorneys filed charges in September claiming Hamrick had approximately 300 fraudulent transactions with Amazon. Of the 300, 270 involved product returns. Of the 270 returns, 250 were “materially different in value.”
In one instance, Hamrick purchased an Apple iMac Pro which cost $4,256.85. About two weeks later, he began the return process. Amazon issued the refund, but Hamrick had sent back an older, non-Pro model with a different serial number.
Hamrick couldn’t have returned the iMac Pro anyway, because he sold it on eBay a week prior to beginning the Amazon return.
Other egregious examples include a $3,536 coffee machine, a gaming laptop worth $2,776, and a Fuji Spray system for $1,227.
Amazon wasn’t blind to Hamrick’s little operation, either. A spokesperson told Business Insider that Amazon detected the fraud and referred the case to law enforcement and worked with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office in North Carolina.
Hamrick pled guilty and now faces up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud and a $250,000 fine.