Amazon Lawsuit Takes Aim at Return Scams

( – Amazon reportedly lost millions of dollars to a scam that allowed customers to receive refunds while keeping valuable merchandise they were supposed to return. It tracked the scheme to an international crime ring, which implemented several tactics to trick the online retailer into crediting participants’ accounts. Amazon has taken aim at the online thieves and is fighting back with a lawsuit.

Amazon alleges that between June 2022 and May 2023, the scammers made over a dozen fraudulent transactions by gaining unauthorized access to the company’s systems. They did this, in part, by bribing a handful of Amazon employees thousands of dollars to accept the refunds and mark the purchases as returned. The organization also used hackers to complete some of the transactions. Fortune reports that the “returned” items included laptops, gaming consoles, smartphones, and a 24-karat gold coin.

Amazon filed its lawsuit in a US District Court on December 7, 2023. The company listed over 30 people, as well as an organization that calls itself REKK, among the defendants. REKK allegedly used social media to advertise the scam, promising the fraudulent service in return for a negotiated fee. At least seven now-former Amazon employees were also involved in the scheme. The accused players span across at least six countries: the US, the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, Lithuania, and Greece.

This isn’t the first time Amazon insiders have worked to rip off the online retailer. A former employee who orchestrated over $10 million in thefts between August 2020 and March 2022 by creating fake vendors and invoices received a 16-year federal prison sentence in July. Another former employee received nine months in September for scamming the retailer out of $1,063.762.82 in a similar scheme, which also involved the person’s brother and one other individual.

Business Insider states that Amazon paid roughly 15,000 employees, at a price tag of about $1.2 billion, to combat theft and fraud in 2022.

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