Man Pleads Guilty to a Return Fraud Scheme Victimizing Amazon.com, Inc.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Manassas man pleaded guilty today to defrauding the online retailer, Amazon.com, Inc. (Amazon), of over $300,000 by operating a mail fraud scheme to buy high-end products, claim a refund, then return a similar item of significantly lesser value.
According to court documents, from 2017 through 2020, Farhaad Riyaz, 34, would open multiple Amazon accounts, purchase high-end items online and have them shipped to his residence. Riyaz would then claim the item had arrived too late or was not as described online, thereby initiating a return. He would send back to Amazon, via United Parcel Service, an item of materially lesser value but Amazon would refund him the full purchase price. For instance, in June 2019, Riyaz bought a rare Fender Telecaster electric guitar for approximately $2,600 from Amazon, then returned a Squier Telecaster electric guitar of the same color that had cost him approximately $400. During the scheme, Riyaz also fraudulently obtained a $37,000 home theater system by returning a $2,000 model, and fraudulently obtained multiple $4,400 toilets with electric bidets.
Riyaz is scheduled to be sentenced on March 22, 2022. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division; and Kevin Davis, Fairfax County Chief of Police, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema accepted the plea.
Amazon’s fraud detection unit provided valuable assistance in the investigation of the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell L. Carlberg is prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:21-cr-264.