The job description was simple. Drive items from storage in Seattle to the post office for shipping. Or pick up items that buyers returned from the Seattle airport.
However, two Amazon delivery guys under contract wanted to make their uneventful job a bit more interesting. According to the search warrant affirmation opened yesterday, these two had been delivering these Amazon goods to pawn shops for appropriate monetary compensation.
This criminal master plan started cracking when a police officer found thousands of pawnshop slips at one of these Amazon drivers last summer.
This was the primary motive that incited the federal investigation that resulted in discovering the criminal ring involved in a theft of gigantic proportions.
The ring leaders made a $10 million illegal profit from selling the stolen goods online.
The minds behind this grand theft displayed the ultimate audacity in doing the business. After the goods were delivered to pawn shops, they were returned to the Amazon warehouse where they remained until sold, once again.
The criminals returned the stolen items to Amazon so that they could sell them again.
Ariana Kroshinsky from the FBI stated that the $10 million is not the final amount. Amazon still has to provide official data that are going to show exactly how much money has been gained illegally over the past six years.
The Federal Bureau has marked Aleksandr Pavlovsky as the mastermind of the whole criminal operation and raided in pawnshops and his house. However, there has been no sign of criminal charges yet.
His attorney wasn’t available for comments. However, a man who gave a statement to the Associated Press when they paid a visit to one of the pawnshops said he ran a completely legitimate business and that he had nothing to hide.
Since two persons who delivered goods for “Amazon” were the part of the criminal scheme, this online trade giant had issued a statement. They emphasized that they didn’t “tolerate fraud” and continued saying that they fully cooperated with the authorities when they found out that their contracted workers were involved. The statement also noted that Amazon strictly prohibited the promotion and selling of stolen goods on their site.
The entire investigation started a year ago when it was discovered that one driver had made a significant profit of $30,000 from pawnshops within several months. Following this trail, the driver was arrested, soon to be let out because the police found out that this was a well-organized scheme of massive proportions.
The other driver that participated in the scheme seems to have shared the flat with the first one. He is suspected of having earned a little less than $20,000 on selling the stolen goods of over $100,000 in total worth.
This suspect is someone already familiar to the authorities since he was charged with murder in March and then attempted to flee to Canada. The police caught him at the Canadian border with a fake ID. No one from the company which provides contract workers for Amazon wasn’t willing to comment on this case.
The police, which had two pawnshops under surveillance, concluded that these stores collected stolen goods from thieves and drug abusers, but they didn’t put them up for sale. All of these items from the Home Depot or other department stores ended up in the Amazon “fulfillment centers” instead.
The suspected pawnshops paid over $4.1 million to people that supplied them with items in the original packaging. Some of these suppliers were the police working undercover, and they would get the money for the goods, no questions asked, stated the FBI agent in her report.
Reselling of stolen items on online trading sites is not uncommon. However, the scales of this criminal activity have become evident in recent years. There was another police raid in the Seattle area that showed the pawnshop had gained almost $500,000 from selling the stolen items online.
John Relly, who worked as the head of customer experience sector at Amazon and now is a highly-positioned representative of a digital consultancy company, said that the prevention of selling stolen items online presented an ultimate challenge. He added that the “third-party sellers” should be accountable if they didn’t run additional checks of the goods they wanted to sell on the internet.
It seems that Amazon, as one of the leading trading sites, has too much on their hands. They have to receive a product, promote it online, and secure a swift and safe delivery to customers. They cannot check whether every single item they get is legitimate.
For this reason, they have to believe the authorities when they appear at the door claiming that this company is selling stolen goods.