Man pleads guilty to defrauding Amazon with $1.3 million refund scam

A Los Angeles Amazon seller pleaded guilty on Monday to defrauding the online retailer of more than $1.3 million over a nine-year period.

Ting Hong Yeung, 41, of Hacienda Heights, was charged with wire fraud in March for tampering with the company’s payment system. A criminal wire charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

According to the indictment filed by the Justice Department, Yeung, a third-party seller, began operations by listing high-priced goods, such as furniture and home decor items, at very low prices to quickly round up sales. Instead of shipping purchased items to customers, Yeung provided Amazon with fake tracking numbers.

When customers contacted Yeung through Amazon’s Buyer-Seller Messaging Service to inquire about missing orders, Yeung encouraged them to wait rather than file complaints with Amazon — long enough to ensure that Amazon is expected to disburse the funds itself.

Federal prosecutors said Yeung also used products purchased from other Amazon sellers to fulfill his own orders.

Upon receiving the product, Yeung would initiate a refund request stating that the product was “different from what was ordered” and then return a similar product of lower value, prosecutors said.

Federal prosecutors said Yeung agreed to pay restitution, part of which will be paid with gold and silver bullion seized during a search of his home in February.

Sentencing was set for August 29.

Los Angeles Times

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