An Indiana couple and their accomplice were sentenced to federal prison Monday for launching and operating a scheme that defrauded Amazon of $1.2 million in consumer electronics.
Erin and Leah Finan, both 38, a married couple from the Muncie-Anderson area, pleaded guilty to federal mail fraud and money laundering charges and were sentenced to 71 months and 68 months in prison, respectively.
Danijel Glumac, 29, of Indianapolis, pleaded guilty to money laundering and to fencing the items the Finans stole. Glumac was sentenced to 24 months in prison.
“Consumer fraud not only unjustly enriches the perpetrator, it causes all of us to pay higher retail prices,” U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said in a statement. “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.”
The scheme, which the Finans and Glumac ran between 2014 and 2016, saw the trio steal and sell more than 2,700 consumer electronics items such as GoPro digital cameras, Microsoft Xboxes, Samsung smartwatches, Microsoft Surface tablets, Apple Macbooks and other consumer electronics from the online retailer.
They exploited Amazon’s customer service policy by repeatedly falsely claiming that the electronics they ordered were damaged or not working and then requesting and receiving replacements from Amazon at no charge.
In total, the Finans stole, and Glumac sold, more than $1.2 million in consumer electronics.
Investigators said the Finas made the scheme their way of life. They placed thousands of Amazon orders, created hundreds of false identities and sold items to their fence, Glumac, on almost a daily basis.
The couple made roughly $750,000 from their scheme in just over two years.
In addition to the Amazon fraud, the couple bounced checks, rented cars without payment and rented homes without paying the rent. Investigators added that they committed another online fraud involving stealing high-end rental softball equipment and selling it on Facebook groups to parents with children who played the sport.
Glumac pleaded guilty to buying more than 2,000 electronics items from the Finans and selling them to a buyer in New York. Glumac bought the items from the Finans in person, often in parking lots around Indianapolis, before marking up their prices and shipping them off to the New York buyer.
After laundering the money, Glumac made nearly $500,000 from the scheme, officials said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nick Linder, who prosecuted the case for the government, said that the three defendants were also ordered to pay full restitution of $1,218,504.
Source: USA Today (Justin L Mack)
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