Who doesn’t love free stuff? Erin Finan and wife Leah Finan were certainly partial to a freebie or two, the only problem being they were obtaining them via fraudulent means.
The Indianapolis couple was this week jailed for 71 months and 68 months, respectively, after earlier admitting to stealing $1.2 million worth of items from online retail giant Amazon.
The Finans, both 37, were charged last year after it was discovered that between 2014 and 2016 they stole more than 2,700 consumer electronics items from Amazon that included GoPro cameras, Microsoft Xboxes, Samsung smartwatches, and Microsoft Surface tablets.
Court documents showed that the pair took possession of the delivered goods by falsely claiming they were damaged or not working. They would then request — and sometimes receive — a replacement at no charge.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Indiana offered some background to how the Finans operated: “Amazon’s customer service policy allows, under certain circumstances, customers to receive a replacement before they return a broken item,” it said, suggesting that the originally received items were never returned. For Amazon, it’s sometimes more cost-effective to replace items following such claims, rather than investigate them. The company has safeguards in place to flag up potential violators of the system, but the Finans reportedly got around this by creating “hundreds” of false identities.
And the story didn’t end there.
Receiving more goods than they knew what to do with, the couple passed many of the stolen items to an accomplice, Danijel Glumac. He’s been handed a two-year jail sentence after admitting to charges of money laundering and also and to buying and selling the Finans’ stolen goods.
The Finans sold the stolen electronics out of their van to Glumac at a price substantially below their retail value, the Attorney’s Office said. He then priced them at a higher value before selling them on to a buyer in New York, who would sell them to the public, “often on Amazon.”
The couple reportedly made around $750,000 from the illicit scheme, while Glumac is believed to have made nearly $500,000.
“Consumer fraud not only unjustly enriches the perpetrator, it causes all of us to pay higher retail prices,” U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said in a release. “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.”
Updated on June 5: Added sentencing details.