Former Amazon employee arrested on wire fraud charges over bogus product refunds

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Amazon announced Monday that one of its former employees, Vu Anh Nguyen, had been denounced to the FBI in July 2020 for “having falsely reimbursed products ordered on Amazon.com to himself and his associates”.

According to the online retailer, the US Department of Justice charged Nguyen on Friday with federal wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

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The criminal complaint notes that Nguyen worked as a sales support associate based in Tempe, Az. in which he provided assistance to third-party Amazon sellers and helped create seller listings using a “Spoofer” account, which allows Amazon employees to view and edit third-party seller accounts and manually authorize refunds.

The record indicates that the alleged wire fraud occurred between November 2019 and February 2020, in which Nguyen used his employee’s access to falsely and fraudulently issue $ 96,508.13 in refunds to himself and to others. Refunds were not requested by legitimate buyers and the transactions involved the use of interstate cables.

The program involved around 318 unauthorized refunds for orders purchased through eight Amazon accounts owned by Nguyen and others. These included refunds for high-value items, such as computers and electronics, none of which were ever returned to Amazon. Nguyen also operated two third-party seller accounts, Bullsy and ItemsQuest, where refunds were issued for orders he shipped to various locations, including his home.

Further, the complaint alleges that Nguyen also ordered $ 222.04 of items sent to his home under the program and then fraudulently authorized a concession refund for the items, allowing him to keep the items without paying.

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Nguyen is also charged with identity fraud for allegedly using credit card information belonging to a third party for an order totaling $ 47.80 for household items, including drawer organizers and cabinet liners.

An unidentified woman told FBI investigators that she discovered that Nguyen had opened many accounts in her name in several financial institutions without her knowledge or permission, accessed her bank accounts and suffered losses and debts in his name.

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Amazon said it launched a full investigation after its systems identified the suspicious refunds. Nguyen’s job was terminated after repeatedly ignoring Amazon’s numerous attempts to contact him and question him about the suspicious activity.

“We thank the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their swift work in holding this scammer accountable,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a prepared statement. There is no room for mistakes or fraud at Amazon. We keep our employees high, have systems in place to proactively prevent fraud, continue to monitor activity, and will take all steps to protect our store and hold bad actors accountable.

The e-commerce giant has indicated that it routinely investigates and prosecutes the fraud on its platform, including supporting wire fraud charges against four people who committed $ 19 million in a system. fraudulent billing system targeting Amazon’s supplier system. The company also said it has launched an anti-counterfeiting unit to tackle the growing problem of counterfeit products being sold in its market and has helped shut down multiple fraudulent affiliate marketing programs.

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The announcement comes after six people were indicted last month for collectively paying Amazon.com employees $ 100,000 in bribes in exchange for restoring their banned products or services to the company’s website. society.

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Regardless of the Amazon fraud case, Nguyen has been the target of a federal investigation involving a type of securities fraud known as “free-riding,” which resulted in losses of approximately $ 695,000. in eight brokerage firms, the complaint notes. The Securities and Exchange Commission, however, said in its own statement that the fraud committed may in fact have caused a total of $ 1 million in losses.

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