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US couple used hundreds of fake personas to steal $1.2m-worth of electronics from Amazon

International Business Times logo International Business Times 05/10/2017 Jason Murdock
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Watch: Couple plead guilty to stealing $1.2m from Amazon (CNBC)

A US couple has admitted to stealing more than $1.2m (£910k) worth of electronics - including gaming consoles, digital cameras and tablets - from internet retailer Amazon.

Erin Joseph Finan, 38, and Leah Jeanette Finan, 37, from Muncie, Indiana, have now pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering in a US District Court in Indianapolis.

According to the Star Press, the charges carry a maximum of 20-years in prison and $500,000 (£380k) fines.

Under a plea deal, the suspects will be ordered to pay Amazon $1,218,504 (£924.5k) and will have to waive the right to appeal if sentenced to under seven years and three months in prison.

In total, the Finans allegedly stole consumer electronics including GoPro cameras, Microsoft Xboxes, Samsung smartwatches and Microsoft Surface tablets.

amazon © Reuters/Rick Wilking amazon

They created "hundreds" of fake online personas and identities to order the goods, before taking advantage of the retailer's return policy by claiming they were damaged or not working.

Over an undetermined amount of time, replacements were sent by Amazon free of charge, under the belief that the "faulty" products would be returned.

In May 2017, the couple were formally named in a federal indictment, accused of conducting the scheme alongside a third suspect - 28-year-old Danijel Glumac of Indianapolis.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) said the pair "went to great lengths to conceal their fraud."

The Finans allegedly sold the stolen electronics out of their van to Glumac at a price substantially below their legitimate retail value.

Glumac then marked them up, and later sold and shipped them to an unnamed New York business, which in turn sold them to the public, the indictment read.

The DoJ alleged Glumac laundered the proceeds from his sale of the stolen electronics through bank accounts associated with his clothing business before paying the Finans their cut.

In total, Glumac allegedly received more than $1.2 million (£910k) from the unnamed New York entity, of which he paid approximately $725,000 (£550k) to the Finans. Glumac, the DoJ said, had been charged by grand jury with transportation of stolen property and money laundering.

Assistant US attorney and prosecutor Nick Linder previously said that the charges against the Finans carried maximum sentences of between 10 and 20 years in prison.

Judge Tanya Walton Pratt set sentencing hearings for the Indiana couple for 9 November 2017.

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