Amazon textbook rental service scammed for $ 1.5 million • The Register

A 36-year-old man from Portage, Mich., Was arrested Thursday for allegedly renting hundreds of textbooks from Amazon and promoting them quite than returning them.

Andrew Birge, United States Legal professional for the Western District of Michigan, famous Geoffrey Mark Hays Talsma has been charged with postal and digital fraud, transporting stolen items throughout state traces, aggravated identification theft and mendacity to the FBI.

Three alleged co-conspirators have additionally been charged: Gregory Mark Gleesing, 43, and Lovedeep Singh Dhanoa, 25, each of Portage, Mich., And Paul Steven Larson, 32, of Kalamazoo, Michigan.

From January 2016 to March 2021, in line with the indictment, Talsma rented textbooks from the Amazon rental program so as to promote them at a revenue. The indictment describes what occurred as “a complicated fraud scheme”.

Talsma allegedly disguised her identification by creating a number of buyer accounts with completely different names, mailing addresses, e-mail addresses and cellphone numbers. It did so ostensibly to get across the 15-pound restrict Amazon positioned on textbook leases.

His alleged fraud scheme concerned using Amazon present playing cards to hire textbooks and pay as you go MyVanilla Visa playing cards with minimal credit score balances to cowl the redemption value charged for books not returned.

“These present playing cards and MyVanilla Visa playing cards didn’t comprise names or different technique of figuring out him because the particular person renting the textbooks,” the indictment says. Geoffrey Mark Talsma made certain that the MyVanilla Visa playing cards didn’t have enough credit score balances and even no balances when the rental of the textbooks was overdue so Amazon couldn’t accumulate the acquisition value of the e-book from. these playing cards. “

Because the scheme progressed, in line with the indictment, Talsma “recruited people, together with the defendants Gregory Mark Gleesing, Lovedeep Singh Dhanoa and Paul Steven Larson, in addition to others recognized to the grand jury. , to permit him to make use of their names and mailing addresses to proceed to obtain rental manuals in portions effectively in extra of the fifteen pound restrict. “

Talsma referred to as Amazon customer support and claimed that as an alternative of the ordered manuals, he obtained different objects that would not be returned by put up, corresponding to flammable objects. Or he would declare he by no means obtained any textbooks, within the hope that Amazon would credit score him for the products not obtained and neglect in regards to the rental. And later, he allegedly taught Gleesing, Dhanoa, and Larson to do the identical.

Titles taken included “Compensation” by Jerry Newman, Barry Gerhart and George Milkovich, which lists a buyout value of $ 172.05, and “Economics” by Campbell McConnell, Stanley Brue and Sean Flynn, which lists a buyout value of. $ 108.00.

The scheme seems to have been fairly profitable: the indictment states that the 4 alleged crooks stole 14,000 textbooks price greater than $ 1.5 million.

If convicted, Talsma faces a considerable jail sentence: as much as 20 years for every cost of mail and digital fraud; as much as 10 years for the transport of stolen items; and as much as 5 years for mendacity to the FBI. If convicted of aggravated identification theft, that will add a most sentence of 4 consecutive years, with the opposite sentences typically being concurrent. ®

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