Couple who swindled Amazon out of $1.2M in gadgets gets 6-year sentence

The Indiana husband and wife would falsely claim the electronics they ordered were damaged or not working.

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Abrar Al-Heeti is a technology reporter for CNET, with an interest in phones, streaming, internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. She's also worked for CNET's video, culture and news teams. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
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Erin and Leah Finan, who pleaded guilty to stealing more than 2,700 electronics from Amazon, have been sentenced to almost six years in jail.

Richard Lautens / Getty Images

An Indiana husband and wife who were charged in October with stealing more than $1.2 million in merchandise from Amazon have been sentenced to nearly six years in jail. 

The US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Indiana said Monday that Erin and Leah Finan, both 38, who had previously pleaded guilty to charges of federal mail fraud and money laundering, were sentenced to 71 months and 68 months in jail, respectively. A third perpetrator, Danijel Glumac, 29, who had pleaded guilty to money laundering and to buying and selling the Finans' stolen property across state lines, 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," said US Attorney Josh Minkler 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." 

Between 2014 and 2016, the Finans and Glumac stole and sold more than 2,700 electronics including GoPro cameras, Xboxes, Samsung smartwatches, Microsoft Surface tablets and MacBooks. They would exploit Amazon's customer service policy by falsely claiming that the electronics they ordered were damaged or not working, the Department of Justice said. Then they'd request and receive replacements from Amazon at no charge. 

In total, the Finans and Glumac sold over $1.2 million in consumer electronics. The Finans created hundreds of fake online identities and made around $750,000 in a little over two years from the scheme, according to Department of Justice release.

"Their nearly six-year sentences reflected their willingness to commit other frauds too," the DoJ said. "They bounced checks. They rented cars but never paid for them. They rented houses but never paid the rent. And they even committed another online fraud involving stealing high-end rental softball equipment and selling it on Facebook groups of parents of children who were serious about softball."

Glumac would buy the items from the Finans in person before raising the prices and shipping them to a buyer in New York -- who'd often sell them on Amazon, the DoJ said. Glumac made almost $500,000 from the scheme "after laundering the proceeds through bank accounts associated with a clothing business," the release said. 

The Internal Revenue Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Indiana State Police investigated the case. 

Amazon has also been banning customers who who return items too frequently, sometimes without warning or an explanation.