Customer duped Amazon out of $290,000 by returning wrong products, NC prosecutors say

·3 min read

Amazon lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to one man in North Carolina who sought refunds for a litany of high-end goods — from expensive coffee machines to new computers — that he never returned, according to the Justice Department.

Now he faces federal charges.

Hudson Hamrick, who lives in Charlotte, was charged Monday with wire fraud in the Western District of North Carolina, court filings show. He’s accused of orchestrating more than 300 fraudulent transactions that cost Amazon over $290,000.

Hamrick could not be reached by McClatchy News for comment, and information regarding his defense attorney was not immediately available.

In a statement, Amazon said it worked with prosecutors in the Western District as well as the FBI to pursue the case.

“Amazon has systems in place to detect suspicious behavior, and teams in place to investigate and stop prohibited activity,” the company said. “There is no place for fraud at Amazon and we will continue to pursue all measures to hold bad actors accountable.”

The alleged fraud lasted from October 2016 to some time in 2020, according to charging documents.

During that time, prosecutors said, Hamrick would order an expensive product from Amazon, file a return and receive a full refund. But instead of sending the product back, Hamrick is accused of returning a cheaper version that was often broken and worth significantly less than the item he received.

Hamrick succeeded in receiving bogus refunds on the return of more than 270 products, about 250 of which were worth significantly less than what he initially ordered, court documents state.

If he didn’t initiate a return, Hamrick would seek a concession by claiming to have never received the product or that it arrived broken, necessitating a replacement, the government said.

Prosecutors said he would “either keep the new, expensive item or resell the item on an online platform.”

The government pointed to a number of specific incidents that occurred in 2019 and 2020 — starting with fancy coffee maker.

Hamrick reportedly bought a Jura professional coffee machine from Amazon in July 2019 for $3,536, court documents state. He asked to return it about a week later and was given a refund. But instead of returning the coffee machine he received, prosecutors said, Hamrick sent another Jura coffee machine worth $2,000 less.

He is accused of reselling the professional coffee maker on his own Amazon account about seven months later.

Hamrick repeated the scheme with a $4,200 iMac Pro in August 2019, this time sending back a “much older, less valuable non-Pro model with a completely different serial number,” prosecutors said. He reportedly sold the iMac Pro on eBay later that same month.

In September 2019, prosecutors said, Hamrick bought a gaming laptop for $2,776 from Amazon that he returned the next day. But the laptop he sent back was worth $2,300 less.

Hamrick also bought a $1,200 Fuji spray paint system from Amazon in February 2020 that he tried to return with another Fuji model worth just $349. Fuji makes spray equipment that’s used in the after-market car industry and by spray tan companies, according to its website.

Prosecutors said Amazon blocked the refund on Hamrick’s return, but he was still able to resell the equipment using his own Amazon account.

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