The Amazon Refund Trick: Why You Shouldn’t Try It

Before Amazon tightened up its Amazon refund policy, many people were scamming the e-commerce giant out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you try the Amazon refund trick now, you’re in for a rude awakening.


Verified.org
Updated 25 February 2022
The Amazon Refund Trick: Why You Shouldn’t Try It
Sections on this page
  1. Amazon Refund Trick 1: Returning Items of Lower Value
  2. Amazon Refund Trick #2: Claiming a Problem with the Product/Delivery
  3. What is Amazon’s Refund Policy?

There have been different ways people have stolen money and items by receiving refunds from Amazon without returning the items. Two of the most common Amazon refund tricks are one where you return an item of much lower value and one where you falsely claim an issue with delivery or the product. This may also be known as the Amazon gift card refund trick because many people request the refund via gift card, so they can’t be traced. 

While some may have found success in these schemes, playing these tricks with Amazon is not legal and goes against their refund policies. In addition, some people have been caught and faced penalties that likely had them regretting their decisions. 

Amazon Refund Services Are Illegal

Some people offer their services online to help you get a refund without returning the product. Know that these services are illegal, and you’re putting yourself at risk by engaging with these scammers. 

Amazon Refund Trick 1: Returning Items of Lower Value

Perhaps the most obvious scam people try to get away with on Amazon is requesting a refund for one item but returning one of much lower value. 

If you’ve ever returned something to Amazon before, you’ll know that sometimes, your refund is processed as soon as you send your product back. This could be as soon as:

  • UPS scans your package
  • Your package is picked up from an Amazon locker and scanned in
  • You give your product to Kohls or Whole Foods to return

Amazon clued into this scam and has updated its refund policy so that most items will only be refunded once they receive and confirm that the item you sent back matches the one you bought. 

Penalties

Several people have been caught and charged for taking advantage of Amazon’s generous refund policy and sending back fraudulent items. 

  • Hudson Hamrick: This North Carolina man requested returns for more than 300 products from Amazon over five years. For about 250 of them, he sent back items of significantly lesser value than the ones he had bought and received. For the items that were not refunded, Hamrick then turned to Amazon refund trick #2 (see below), scamming Amazon out of almost $300,000. Hamrick, who is waiting for a sentencing date, faces:
    • A maximum prison sentence of 20 years
    • A $250,000 fine
  • James Gilbert Kwarteng: This Spanish man was arrested in 2019 for using this Amazon refund trick to scam Amazon out of $370,000. Instead of sending back just any lower value item, Kwarteng sent boxes of dirt back to Amazon. He was released on bail for $3,300.
  • Farhaad Riyaz: A DC dermatologist used this Amazon refund trick to scam more than $300,000 from Amazon. The items he bought and failed to return included a projector worth almost $40,000. Riyaz faces up to 20 years in federal prison and has agreed to:
    • Pay the final order total of $312,964.38 to Amazon back in restitution
    • Forfeit the goods

Amazon Refund Trick #2: Claiming a Problem with the Product/Delivery

Other people have scammed Amazon out of thousands of dollars by making a complaint about their Amazon delivery or the product itself. 

In some cases, people will meet the Amazon delivery driver at the door and take the package before the driver can take a photo. Therefore there’s no proof that the ordered item was actually delivered, and you can ask for an Amazon refund without returning it. 

Another version requires you to contact Amazon and complain about the quality of the product itself. For example, some people would complain that they received an empty box or a severely damaged product. In these cases, Amazon will send you a replacement product or refund you before you send the product back. 

This scam requires setting up several fake accounts that you can close as soon as you receive the refund, so Amazon can’t track you and take back the refund when they realize you didn’t send back the faulty product. 

Penalties

As expected, you could face some pretty hefty penalties if you’re caught taking advantage of Amazon via this refund trick. One particularly extreme case involved an Indiana married couple who received prison sentences. 

Between 2014 to 2016, Erin and Leah Jeanette Finan made more than 2,700 electronics orders from Amazon then complained they were damaged or faulty. They used false identities, and fake Amazon accounts to carry out their scam. They ended scammed Amazon out of a whopping $1.2 million over the two years. The punishments they received were:

  • 71 months in prison for Erin Finan
  • 68 months in prison for Leah Jeanette Finan
  • Paying Amazon back $1,218,504 in restitution

Additionally, the person who helped them sell off the items they stole from Amazon was charged with money laundering and reselling stolen goods. In addition to being required to help the Finans pay back the money to Amazon, he was sentenced to 24 months in prison

What is Amazon’s Refund Policy?

You can’t get a refund on every item you buy on Amazon. It depends on the item itself and if it came from a third-party seller or not (sellers may have their own refund policies). 

For most items, you have 30 days to return your item. When you receive your refund will depend on the item itself. In some cases, you may receive the refund immediately (some items you won’t even have to return). 

In other cases, you won’t receive the refund until Amazon has received the item. 

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