A seven-year series of scams by a third-party seller on Amazon.com came to an end earlier this year when the FBI arrested Ting Hong Yeung, 41, of Hacienda Heights, a suburb of Los Angeles.
In a plea agreement, Yeung pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud on June 6 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. On August 29, Judge Stephen Wilson sentenced Yeung to 18 months in federal prison and ordered him to pay $1.3 million in restitution to Amazon, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Whack-a-Mole Scam Scheme
“[Yeung] perpetrated his fraud over the course of roughly seven years, collecting more than $1.3 million,” the USAO reported. “He forced his victim into an elaborate game of Whac-A-Mole: when Amazon uncovered and shut down a fraud scheme involving one of the defendant's companies, he simply began it anew with another.”
Yeung operated as a third-party vendor under business names such as “Speedy Checkout,” “Special SaleS,” and “California Red Trading Inc.” He used a variety of schemes to cheat both Amazon and his customers. In one scam, he even posed as his own customer. He received reimbursement for items he never delivered and then collected refunds for the undelivered merchandise, the USAO statement said.
Defrauded customers were made whole, however, by Amazon's “A-to-Z Guarantee.” Disgruntled customers of Amazon's third-party vendors receive refunds from Amazon, the USAO explained.
Terms of Plea Deal Not Disclosed
Although the maximum statutory penalty for wire fraud is 20 years, Yeung was sentenced to 18 months. The U.S. Attorney's Office did not disclose the details of the plea agreement.
In addition to his prison sentence, Yeung must pay $ 1,302,954 to Amazon. Some of that repayment will come from gold and silver bars the FBI recovered from his residence.
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