(NewsReady.com) – An international criminal organization has come up with a new way to defraud online retailers. The group got Amazon to pay out millions of dollars in refunds for goods it didn’t return. Now, the online marketplace is suing the criminal gang in an attempt to get its money back.
For years, an organization called REKK has been advertising an unusual service on social media. It claimed it could get customers a refund from Amazon without them having to return the goods. Many people probably thought it was just a way to scam them out of money, but in fact, it worked. The group charged customers for its service, usually a percentage of the item’s value, then either hacked Amazon’s systems or bribed employees to issue refunds without waiting for the goods to be returned. REKK’s clients managed to obtain high-value items, like Apple laptops or new tires, for only the cost of the group’s fees.
Now Amazon is hitting back. On December 28, the retail giant filed a lawsuit in a US District Court in Washington state. The suit names REKK itself as well as the 20 people it alleges are members of the group. The defendants are based in multiple countries, including the US, UK, Canada, Greece, Lithuania, and the Netherlands. Amazon has listed over a dozen sales it claims the group obtained refunds for, including electronics and a gold coin. Seven former Amazon employees who allegedly took bribes are also defendants; the company says they earned thousands of dollars each from the scam.
In fact, the scale of the fraud could be much larger than the lawsuit suggests. In 2019, REKK was already claiming to have obtained over 100,000 fraudulent refunds, and Amazon wasn’t the only retailer it targeted. Amazon says it spent $1.2 billion on investigators last year; this is a major problem.
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