Former Amazon Employee Charged with Falsely Issuing Refunds to Himself

Former Amazon Employee Charged with Falsely Issuing Refunds to Himself

The suspect was charged with identity theft.

Amazon announced Monday that Vu Anh Nguyen, a former employee of the company, had been charged by the Department of Justice with federal criminal counts of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

According to Amazon, in July they reported Nguyen to the authorities for “falsely issuing refunds for products ordered on to himself and his associates.” The Securities and Exchange Commission, in August, had brought charges against a Vu Anh Nguyen.

The criminal complaint, as reported by Geekwire, alleges that Nguyen “issued more than $96,000 in fraudulent refunds to himself and associates while working as a selling support associate based in Tempe, Ariz.” The government claims the scheme entailed issuing refunds for products that were never actually refunded to Amazon.

“Amazon has systems and processes in place to mitigate misuse of our tools, and to monitor and detect suspicious behavior,” the company said in the announcement. “Amazon’s systems identified the suspicious refunds and Amazon conducted a thorough investigation. Nguyen’s employment was immediately terminated and Amazon reported the case to law enforcement.”

The indictment is one of several this year to lead to federal criminal charges involving alleged manipulation, or worse, involving Amazon’s supply chain and product procurement systems.

In August, the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York brought charges against a quartet of brothers, for allegedly “engaging in a scheme to systematically defraud,” to the tune of $19 million. According to SDNY, the four brothers opened vendor accounts with Amazon, accepted purchase orders, and then filed false invoices for thousands of products. The government says they have WhatsApp logs showing the defendants discussing the ins and outs of the scheme.

All four defendants in that case were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering.

In a separate case, in September, six men were charged in the Western District of Washington for “conspiring to pay over $100,000 in commercial bribes to Amazon employees and contractors, in exchange for an unfair competitive advantage on the Amazon Marketplace.” Those defendants are charged with conspiracy to use a communication facility to commit commercial bribery, conspiracy to access a protected computer without authorization, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud.

The scheme in the Washington case entailed bribery of at least ten Amazon employees and contractors, who in turn reinstated suspended accounts, misappropriated Amazon’s confidential business information, and more.

“Realizing they could not compete on a level playing field, the subjects turned to bribery and fraud in order to gain the upper hand. What’s equally concerning, not only did they attempt to increase sales of their own products, but sought to damage and discredit their competitors,” Raymond Duda, Special agent in charge, FBI Seattle, said of the Washington case. “This indictment should send a message that the FBI will not sit on the sidelines while criminals try to cheat their way to the top.”

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters