Amazon fraudsters sentenced to years in federal prison
Husband and wife thieves to serve nearly six years; fence to serve two
Indianapolis – United States Attorney Josh Minkler announced today that the three individuals who were previously charged with defrauding online retailer Amazon of $1.2 million in consumer electronics were sentenced to prison by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt.
Erin Finan, 38, and Leah Finan, 38, husband and wife from the Muncie-Anderson area, pleaded guilty to federal mail fraud and money laundering charges, and were sentenced to 71 months and 68 months in prison, respectively. Danijel Glumac, 29, of Indianapolis, pleaded guilty to money laundering and to fencing the items the Finans stole – that is, buying and selling stolen property across state lines – and was sentenced to 24 months in prison.
“Consumer fraud not only unjustly enriches the perpetrator, it causes all of us to pay higher retail prices,” said Minkler. “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.”
Between 2014 and 2016, the Finans and Glumac stole and sold over 2,700 consumer electronics items such as GoPro digital cameras, Microsoft Xboxes, Samsung smartwatches, Microsoft Surface tablets, Apple Macbooks, and other consumer electronics. Their fraud exploited Amazon’s customer service policy by repeatedly falsely claiming that the electronics they ordered were damaged or not working, and then requesting and receiving replacements from Amazon at no charge. In total, the Finans stole, and Glumac sold, over $1.2 million in consumer electronics.
For the Finans, fraud had become a way of life. Their Amazon scheme was their “job.” It involved placing thousands of Amazon orders, creating hundreds of false identities, retrieving their stolen goods from retail shipping stores all over Indiana, and selling them to their fence, Glumac, on a near-daily basis. In just over two years, they made roughly $750,000 from their scheme.
Their nearly six-year sentences reflected their willingness to commit other frauds too. They bounced checks. They rented cars but never paid for them. They rented houses but never paid the rent. And they even committed another online fraud involving stealing high-end rental softball equipment and selling it on Facebook groups of parents of children who were serious about softball.
Glumac, for his part, pleaded guilty to buying the over 2,000 electronics items from the Finans and selling them to a buyer in New York. Glumac bought the items from the Finans in person, often in parking lots around Indianapolis, before marking up their prices and shipping them off to the New York buyer, who would then sell them to the public – often on Amazon. In total, after laundering the proceeds through bank accounts associated with a clothing business, Glumac made nearly $500,000 from the scheme.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Indiana State Police.
“IRS Criminal Investigation recognizes the damage caused to our economy when individuals like Erin and Leah Finan and Danijel Glumac defraud American corporations like Amazon,” said IRS-CI Special Agent-in-Charge Gabriel Grchan. “The lengthy prison sentences handed down to each of these individuals show that there are devastating consequences to those who think they can make a living off of crime and defrauding others. IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to using its resources to unravel complex financial transactions in order to protect corporations and consumers alike in Indiana.”
“Shopping online has changed the way we think of retail. Many of those purchases are shipped to consumers using the U.S. Mail,” said Inspector in Charge Patricia Armstrong, of the Detroit Division, U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “Glumac and the Finans found a way to commit fraud in the process. Postal Inspectors are proud to have partnered with fellow law enforcement to put an end to the illegal endeavors of these three criminals.”
In October 2017, United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced a Strategic Plan designed to shape and strengthen the District’s response to its most significant public safety challenges. This prosecution demonstrates the Office’s firm commitment to partner with federal and local law enforcement agencies to prosecute complex and large-scale fraud schemes. See United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana Strategic Plan 5.1)
Assistant United States Attorney Nick Linder, who prosecuted the case for the government, said that the three defendants were also ordered to pay full restitution of $1,218,504.