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Man pleads guilty to swindling Amazon out of $1.3 million in refund scheme

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FILE - In this Thursday April 16, 2020 file photo, The Amazon logo is seen in Douai, northern France. Amazon is looking to kickstart holiday shopping early this year. The company said Monday, Sept. 28, 2020 that it will hold its annual Prime Day sales event over two days in October That's because the pandemic forced it to be postponed from July. It's the first time the sales event is being held in the fall. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler, File)
(Michel Spingler / Associated Press)

A Los Angeles vendor on Amazon pleaded guilty Monday to swindling the online retailer out of more than $1.3 million over a span of nine years.

Ting Hong Yeung, 41, of Hacienda Heights was charged with felony wire fraud in March for manipulating the company's payment system. A felony wire charge carries a maximum 20-year sentence.

According to the charge filed by the Department of Justice, Yeung, a third-party seller, began his operations by listing expensive merchandise, such as furniture and home decor, at significantly low prices to rapidly round up sales. Instead of shipping the purchased items to customers, Yeung provided Amazon with bogus tracking numbers.

When customers contacted Yeung through Amazon’s buyer-seller messaging service inquiring about the missing orders, Yeung encouraged them to wait rather than submit complaints to Amazon — long enough to ensure that Amazon would have to disburse the funds themselves.

Federal prosecutors said Yeung also used products purchased from other Amazon sellers to fulfill his own orders.

Upon receiving the product, Yeung would initiate a refund request by stating the product was “different from what was ordered,” then return a similar product of lower value, prosecutors said.

Federal prosecutors said Yeung has agreed to pay restitution, some of which will be paid with gold and silver bars seized during a search of his residence in February.

Sentencing was set for Aug. 29.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.