American man used fancy toilets and electric guitars to defraud Amazon out of US$300,000

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A man in Virginia is accused of defrauding Amazon out of more than US$300,000 (RM1.26 million) by buying expensive products and asking for a refund only to return an alternative product worth a fraction price.

Farhaad Riyaz, 34, pleaded guilty to the scheme in the Eastern District of Virginia on Monday, Dec. 13, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release. Riyaz, a native of Manassas, Va., faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced on March 22.

Manassas is about 30 miles outside of Washington, D.C.

Riyaz could not be reached for comment and defense attorneys representing him did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment.

Prosecutors said the alleged fraud lasted from 2017 to 2020. During that time, Riyaz is accused of opening numerous accounts at Amazon to purchase “high-end items”.

“Riyaz would then claim the item arrived too late or did not match the online description, thereby initiating a return,” the government said. “He would return an item of materially lesser value to Amazon, via United Parcel Service, but Amazon would refund him the full purchase price.”

In June 2019, Riyaz paid US$2,600 (RM10,983) for an electric guitar from Amazon that prosecutors described as a “rare Fender Telecaster”. But instead of returning it after asking for a refund, the government said it sent back a Squier Telecaster electric guitar.

Prosecutors said the Squier was the same color but cost US$400 (RM1,689).

Riyaz did the same with a US$37,000 (RM156,306) home theater system when it reportedly returned one worth just US$2,000 (RM8,449), the government said. He is also accused of fraudulently obtaining “several US$4,400 (RM18,587) toilets with electric bidets”.

A bidet, which is commonly used outside the United States, is a jet of cleansing hot water that squirts from the toilet bowl.

Riyaz is not the only Amazon user accused of using returns to defraud the online retailer.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, prosecutors say Hudson Hamrick stole more than US$290,000 (RM1.22 million) from Amazon using expensive coffee machines and new computers. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud in October and faces up to 20 years in prison and a US$250,000 (RM1.05 million) fine. – The Charlotte Observer / Tribune news service

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