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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 31, 2022

West Roxbury Woman Sentenced for Wire Fraud

Defendant fraudulently returned inferior merchandise in the place of legitimate, high-end goods which she sold on the internet

BOSTON – A West Roxbury woman was sentenced today in federal court in Boston in connection with a return fraud scheme.

Tamara Khatuntseva, 64, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to 90 days in prison and three years of supervised release. Khatuntseva was also ordered to pay restitution of $85,499 and forfeiture of $83,806. On Aug. 5, 2021, Khatuntseva pleaded guilty to wire fraud.

In December 2018, law enforcement initiated an investigation into multiple individuals who were suspected of engaging in activities to defraud runway stores across Massachusetts. From December 2018 through August 2020, Khatuntseva engaged in a scheme to defraud a store through refunds of inferior merchandise including high-end and expensive jewelry, clothing, purses, handbags, luggage and shoes. Specifically, Khatuntseva purchased high-end retail goods from the store and fraudulently returned lower value items in their place for a full refund. Khatuntseva then sold the legitimate merchandise on eBay for hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal profits. For example, Khatuntseva was captured on video surveillance purchasing a pink Gucci scarf for $399, which was then listed for sale on an eBay site associated with Khatuntseva. Several days later, video surveillance showed Khatuntseva returning a different scarf – with the same bar code – and receiving a full refund. To further her scheme, Khatuntseva used two different eBay accounts, opened credit cards in her daughter’s name and purchased the same red security tags used by the store in order to disguise fraudulent returns as legitimate merchandise. On Aug. 27, 2020, a search of Khatuntseva’s home uncovered 42 items she planned to sell on eBay or fraudulently return. It is estimated that the victim company lost between $40,000 and $150,000 as a result of the scheme.

United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura J. Kaplan of Rollins’ Criminal Division prosecuted the case.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated May 31, 2022