A network of thieves in Washington State has sold stolen goods worth millions of dollars to Amazon.com over the past six years, and a pair of contracted delivery drivers has been questioned, as recent documents from the Federal Court show.
According to an affidavit of search warrant unsealed by the US court in Seattle and reviewed by the Associated Press, two facade companies acting as pawnbrokers bought the goods from thieves on display, then the have shipped to Amazon warehouses where they have been stored until they are sold online.
The entities associated with the alleged leader have made sales of at least $ 10 million on Amazon since 2013, said FBI agent Ariana Kroshinsky in his affidavit.
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No charges have yet been filed, although investigators have raided pawnbrokers and the home of the man identified as the leader, Aleksandr Pavlovskiy, 44, of D & # 39; 39; Auburn. A man who opened the door Wednesday in one of the stores identified himself as Alex and told the Associated Press that his business was legitimate, that he was recording good records and that he should have no problem.
Among those who provided stolen goods to pawnbrokers, there were two contract drivers from Amazon, said Kroshinsky. Their job was to travel to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, retrieve the items returned to the company, then bring them to an Amazon warehouse south of Seattle, and then deliver them to offices. From post. Instead, they regularly stole the goods and sold them to the pawnbrokers, she wrote.
Amazon did not immediately return an email asking for comment on the case on Thursday.
The investigation began last summer when a police inspector from Auburn, in the southern suburbs of Seattle, was on record sales of pawnbrokers and had noticed that it was not the same. a man had made 57 transactions. He has turned out to be one of the pilots.
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He had received nearly $ 30,000 worth of items sold to pawnbrokers between February and July of last year, the affidavit said. The police first arrested the driver, but released him from prison so as not to disrupt their wider investigation.
The other driver, identified as Abbas Zghair, was reportedly a roommate of the first. Amazon told investigators that Zghair had stolen about $ 100,000 worth of goods, including gaming systems, sporting goods and computer products. He sold these items to one of the pawnbrokers for less than $ 20,000.
In another case, Zghair was charged with murder after the police reported shooting a man in a field in Auburn in March, and then fled to the Canadian border where he was arrested while he was arrested. he was trying to cross with a fake identity card. He is held on bail of $ 2.5 million.
Both drivers worked for the Amazon JW Logistics contractor, based in Frisco, Texas. It was unclear how long Zghair had been working for the company, but in 2015 he was found guilty of reckless driving in Lewis County after leading the police on a pursuit over 161 km / h, lit red lights and crossed several traveling and crashing into a field.
The company said one representative was not immediately available to comment after regular business hours on Thursday.
The detectives unearthed pawnbrokers, Innovation Best in Kent and Thrift-Electro in Renton, and observed that they seemed to pay shoplifters and drug addicts for new items in department stores Home Depot, Lowes and Fred Meyer. Unlike typical pawnbrokers, they did not sell; Instead, the products were transferred to a warehouse and to Amazon "distribution centers", from where they were shipped when they were sold to the Amazon Web site by vendors using the "Bestforyouall" or "Freeshipforyou" handles, according to the affidavit.
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According to a database of pawnbroker transactions reviewed by Auburn police, suspicious pawnbrokers paid more than $ 4.1 million to vendors who brought them nearly 48,000 items in the six-month period. last years. Items included allergy medications, razors, electric toothbrushes and tools in their original packaging. The detectives also carried out infiltration operations in which they sold new items to the stores in their original packaging, which was accepted without question, wrote Kroshinsky.
The FBI said it was waiting for more Amazon disks to determine the full extent of the Pavlovskiy business, but that "estimated revenue from Amazon's sales to entities associated with Aleksandr Pavlovskiy was at least 10 million since 2013 ".
Pavlovskiy's lawyer, Cristine Beckwith, did not return a message asking for comment.
The sale of stolen or counterfeit products on Amazon or other digital markets is not uncommon, but it was not clear at the time how many programs had reached such a volume of sales. Last year, police raided a pawnbroker in Monroe, north of Seattle, who reportedly took away $ 428,000 worth of fencing stolen property, largely from Amazon.
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Jon Reily, vice president of digital consulting firm Publicis Sapient and former head of e-commerce user experience for Amazon Devices, said that preventing the sale of stolen property was a major challenge for the company. society, but that retailers could be held responsible. do not do enough to make sure that they do not sell stolen goods. As it is impossible for Amazon to review "all Tide pods" sold on its site, the company will likely have to do more for veterinary vendors, said Riley.
"It's kind of like an arms race for Amazon to be able to import products, put them on the Web and send them quickly to their customers and not unwittingly sell stolen goods at the same time," said Reily. . "In the end, Amazon must show good faith if the government comes knocking on the door and says," Look, you are selling stolen goods. "