La Valle Resident Sentenced to 5 Years of Probation for Amazon Fraudulent Return Scheme
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Wisconsin
MADISON, WIS. – Timothy M. O’Shea, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Christian Wink, 27, La Valle, Wisconsin, was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson to 5 years of probation for wire fraud and filing a false tax return. Wink pleaded guilty to these charges on June 22, 2023.
The government’s investigation revealed that between 2017 and 2020, Wink ordered expensive items through Amazon, such as ethernet switches and Wi-Fi routers, and then initiated the return process. Wink would return materially different items that were cheaper or broken, such as cell phone charging cables. Wink then received a refund for the amount of the original purchases. Wink then kept both the ordered items and the refund. During the course of this scheme, Wink engaged in more than 3,485 fraudulent transactions causing losses to Amazon of approximately $372,359.07. Wink admitted that he failed to report the income he generated from the fraudulent return scheme on his personal 2020 tax return.
At the sentencing hearing, Judge Peterson stated that the scope and scale of Wink’s criminal conduct normally would warrant a prison sentence. However, Judge Peterson noted that it was a mitigating circumstance that Wink has a long history of suffering from mental illness, including the time period he committed the fraud against Amazon. Judge Peterson also noted that Wink turned his life around once he committed to mental health treatment in 2021. Judge Peterson concluded that a sentence of five years of probation would allow Wink to continue effectively managing his mental health needs.
The charges against Wink were a result of an investigation conducted by IRS Criminal Investigation. Amazon provided support for the investigation. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Wegner.
Updated November 7, 2023