(RTTNews) - e-commerce giant Amazon.com has sued an international ring of online thieves, including an organization called REKK, who fraudulently swindled millions of dollars in merchandise from the company through a series of refund scams. The scams included buying products on Amazon and seeking refunds without returning the goods.
The lawsuit filed on Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington State names REKK and nearly 30 individuals from the US, Canada, the UK, Greece, Lithuania and the Netherlands as defendants.
According to the lawsuit, the group is alleged to have stolen millions of dollars in merchandise through refund scams, where they purchased products on Amazon and sought refunds without returning the items.
REKK advertised its refund services on social media sites such as Reddit and Discord and used the messaging app Telegram to communicate with its accomplices. They charged customers a commission depending on the value of the purchased items.
The lawsuit alleges that the scam included hacking into Amazon's internal systems and bribing Amazon employees to approve reimbursements. At least seven ex-Amazon employees were identified who allegedly took thousands of dollars in bribes to approve refunds even though products weren't returned.
"The defendants' scheme tricks Amazon into processing refunds for products that are never returned; instead of returning the products as promised, defendants keep the product and the refund," Amazon said in its lawsuit.
The transactions that led to fraudulent refunds for purchases, including laptops, smartphones, gaming consoles, car tires, and a 24-karat gold coin, were made during the period between June 2022 and May 2023, according to the lawsuit.
Amazon said it has spent $1.2 billion and employed 15,000 people in 2022 to fight theft, fraud and abuse on its site.
"When fraud is detected, as in this case, Amazon takes a variety of measures to stop the activity, including issuing warnings, closing accounts, and preventing individuals who engaged in refund fraud from opening new accounts," Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon's vice president in charge of seller services, wrote in a LinkedIn post.
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