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Delivery drivers involved in Amazon's multi-million dollar theft: FBI



SEATTLE – The two contract delivery drivers who worked for Amazon had a clear mission: to bring packages from a warehouse south of Seattle to a shipping post office, or sometimes drive to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to pick up items that were returned to the company.

Instead, the FBI said in a lawsuit that was unsealed last month, they routinely stole the items and sold them at pawn shops.

A police detective last summer noticed that one of the drivers had dozens of mortgage loan transactions, thus launching an investigation that uncovered a theft ring selling stolen goods for millions of dollars on Amazon.com over the past six years, the FBI said.

litigation affidavit, two stores in the store that posed as mortgage lenders purchased the goods from store lifts, and then had the goods shipped to Amazon warehouse, where they were stored until sold online.

Units affiliated with he alleged ring bearers had sales of at least $ 1

0 million on Amazon since 2013, FBI agent Ariana Kroshinsky wrote in her appendix. The agency said it was waiting for additional records from Amazon to determine the full amount.

No charges have been made yet, although investigators have attacked the pawn shops and the man's home identified as ringleader Aleksandr Pavlovskiy, 44, of Auburn. Pavlovski's lawyer, Cristine Beckwith, did not comment.

A man who answered the door in one of the stores on Wednesday identified Alex and told The Associated Press that his business was legitimate, that he kept a good record and he should not be in any trouble.

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Among those who donated stolen items to the pawn shops were two contractors with Amazon, Kroshinsky said .

In a statement, Amazon said it does not tolerate fraud.

"When we learned there was an investigation into two drivers involved, we cooperated with law enforcement by providing them with the information they requested. In addition, we strictly prohibit inauthentic or stolen goods from being offered in our store and take action when sellers do not comply, "the statement says.

The investigation began last summer when a police detective in Auburn, a suburb of South Seattle, reviewed a sale of farm workshops and noticed that a man had made 57 transactions. It turned out to be one of the drivers.

He had received nearly $ 30,000 selling goods to pawn shops between February and July last year, the statute states. The police initially arrested the driver, but released him from prison to avoid interfering with their larger investigation.

The second driver, identified as Abbas Zghair, was believed to be a roommate of the first. Amazon told investigators that Zghair stole property worth $ 100,000, including gaming systems, sports equipment and computer products – items he sold to one of the pawn shops for under $ 20,000, the agent wrote.

In an unrelated case, Zghair has been charged with murder after police say he shot and killed a man in an Auburn field in March, then fled to the Canadian border, where he was arrested for attempting to cross with a fake ID. He is being held on $ 2.5 million bail.

Both drivers worked for Amazon contractor JW Logistics, based in Frisco, Texas. It was unclear how long Zghair had worked for the company, but in 2015 he was convicted of reckless driving in Lewis County after leading police in a chase of over 161 mph, driving a red light, driving over multiple lanes of travel and crashing in a field.

The company said that a representative was not immediately available to comment after regular business hours on Thursday.

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Detectives put out pawn shops, Innovation Best in Kent and Thrift-Electro in Renton, and observed that they looked to pay store lifts and drug users cash for new goods from Depot, Lowes and Fred Meyer department stores. Unlike typical pawn shops, they did not sell; instead, the products were moved to a warehouse and to Amazon "refill centers," from where they were shipped when sold on Amazon's website by sellers who used the "Bestforyouall" or "Freeshipforyou" handles, the statement states.

According to a database of mortgage lender transactions reviewed by Auburn police, the suspected mortgage loans paid more than $ 4.1 million to sellers who brought them nearly 48,000 items over the past six years. The items included allergy medicines, razors, electric toothbrushes and tools in the original packaging. Detectives also conducted undercover operations where they sold new items in the original packaging to the stores, which accepted them without question, Kroshinsky wrote.

Sales of stolen or counterfeit goods on Amazon or other digital marketplaces are not uncommon, but it was not immediately clear how many other schemes had reached such a volume of sales. Last year, police attacked a pawn shop in Monroe, north of Seattle, which they said had taken in $ 428,000 worth of stolen property, much of it on Amazon.

Amazon has several third-party seller requirements on its website: They must provide company name, address, contact information, valid credit card and tax identity information.

Jon Reily, vice president of digital consulting firm Publicis Sapient and former head of the e-commerce user experience for Amazon Devices, said preventing the sale of stolen goods is a major challenge for the company, but retailers can be held accountable if they do not do enough to make sure they don't sell stolen goods. Because it's impossible for Amazon to review "every Tide pod" sold on the site, the company will likely need to do more to sell veterinarians, Riley said.

"It's a bit of a weapon race for Amazon to be able to take product, put it online and get it to their customers quickly and not inadvertently sell stolen items at the same time," Reily said. "Finally, what Amazon needs to do is show good faith if the government comes knocking on the door and says, & # 39; Look, you sell stolen goods."

Gene Johnson of The Associated Press wrote this story.


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