Michigan Men Charged With Stealing $1.5 Million from Amazon Rental Service
You don't mess with Amazon. That's the hard lesson four Michigan men are learning after being charged with stealing $1.5 million worth of textbooks from Amazon's rental service.
The men allegedly rented the books from the retailer with no intention of returning them and then tried to sell them for cash.
Prosecutors say the group was led by Geoffrey Mark Hays Talsma of Portage.
Here's How the Scam Worked
Amazon typically rents college textbooks at a fraction of the cost of buying them new. They have to be returned by a pre-determined date (usually at the end of a semester). If the books are not returned, the customer's credit card is charged the full rate.
Talsma would use fake identities to open Amazon accounts. They'd then pay the rental fees using Amazon gift cards. Amazon also requires customers to enter a backup payment method, so the men would purchase prepaid Visa cards that had minuscule balances - not enough to cover the cost of the books once the rental agreements defaulted and the books were not returned.
Market Watch reports that Talsma would have the books mailed to various postal addresses which were accessed by himself or any of his three co-conspirators.
Approximately 14,000 textbooks were stolen from the giant retailer and Talsma would then attempt to sell them to local bookstores or online.
Gregory Gleesing and Lovedeep Dhanoa of Porage, and Paul Larson of Kalamazoo were also named in the crime.
Talsma has been charged with mail and wire fraud, interstate transportation of stolen property, aggravated identity theft, and lying to the FBI. He could face 40 years in prison if convicted.