Has Amazon reached a breaking point with professional refunders? It appears so. And now that they have taken a stand, other retailers may strike back as well, taking their lead.
This week, they launched a legal blitz against the prolific refunding group – REKK- which they say caused millions in losses to the company through systematic refund abuse.
But they are going after the little guy – people who used the service, and not the operators because they have no idea who they are – referring to them as “John Doe’s” in the lawsuit.
They even named names, citing 20 individuals – people who used the service and got fraudulent returns, and insiders who helped in the scheme.
One Of The Biggest – Over 30,000 Followers on REKK
Amazon says REKK has over 30,000 followers on their Telegram Channel to whom they brazenly advertise their fraudulent refund service.
Amazon is targeting REKK among the thousands of professional refunders, because well, REKK targeted them. On any given day, the service posts advertisements about their “inside connections” at Amazon that help them navigate illicit refunds for their clientele.
Not A Customer Service Issue. This Is Fraud.
For years, many retailers have generally taken the stance that fraudulent refunds are a “customer service issue” and failed to orchestrate a good response.
The most striking thing about Amazon’s lawsuit is that it definitively draws a line in the sand – this is fraud. This is not a customer service issue.
The Group Boast Over 100,000 Fraudulent Refunds
The group, which operates internationally but focuses on US retailers boasts that they have completed over 100,000 refunds through social engineering Amazon’s customer service, or in some cases, outright bribing Amazon employees to facilitate the fraud.
What is very unusual is that the even named 7 Amazon employees – Oscar Pineda, Janiyah Alford, Noah Page, Skylar Robinson, William Walsh, Luke Colvin, Alejandro Taveras that they believe were in cahoots with the refunders.
Better Call Saul – An Online Website Details What Can Be Refunded
The group even goes so far as to openly publish guides on what they can refund in online spreadsheets. You can check out Saul Refunders, a member’s website right here.
Meet Andrew Ling. An Amazon Customer That Used REKK
REKK Refunds, being who they are, will stop at nothing to get a fraudulent refund through, resorting to a hodgepodge of techniques.
To illustrate how REKK used phishing attacks, they called out Andrew Ling, an Amazon customer who used REKK to get a fraudulent refund.
Andrew Ling placed an Amazon order for five Apple iPads, causing the products to be shipped via Amazon Logistics.
After receiving the products, Ling engaged REKK to receive a fraudulent refund of the products. REKK then used a phishing attack against an Amazon fulfillment center associate to manipulate Amazon’s systems to show that all five of Ling’s iPads were returned (when none were). As a result, Ling and REKK stole five iPads and REKK received hundreds of dollars for facilitating the fraud.
We’re Hiring – How They Recruited Innys At Amazon
REKK recruits insiders on Reddit, LinkedIn, or directly on its Telegram channel. This screenshot from the lawsuit shows the lengths that the group would go to hire people who worked on the inside at Amazon and other retailers.
One former Amazon employee took the bait, and signed up to help REKK.
Janiyah Alford began her employment with Amazon as a fulfillment center associate in Chattanooga, Tennessee in January 2023.
REKK recruited her to facilitate returns fraud and Alford agreed to approve customer returns for products that were not returned. The following are partial screenshots of two of Alford’s SMS conversations with REKK:
According to the suit, Ms. Alford approved product returns for 76 orders at REKK’s request, leading Amazon to refund more than $100,000 to REKK users.
She talked to the New York Times in an interview, and explained what happened.
She said in an interview that “she had received text messages asking for help in carrying out the fraudulent returns, and that the messages included her home address and the home addresses of several relatives. She said she did not know who sent the messages, but she viewed them as threats. The messages were not mentioned in the complaint.
The Group Continues To Operate On Telegram With Impunity
You might expect REKK Refunding Service to take a low profile after getting called out and sued by the largest retailer on the planet.
But it is business as usual on the refunding site. Still advertising their Amazon refunds. Still touting access to insiders.
And still operating with impunity and little regard for the lawsuit.
These screenshots were taken today, days after the lawsuit was filed.
Amazon – We Are Working Aggressively To End These Crimes
REKK may have met their match. Going against Amazon is probably a losing battle and they might want to run for the hills.
Amazon said it spent $1.2 billion and employed 15,000 people in 2022 to fight theft, fraud, and abuse on its site.
And Amazon is being quite vocal about the lawsuit. Last week, Dharmesh Mehta, VP At Amazon posted on Linkedin about the lawsuit, claiming that “Amazon was going to work aggressively to end these crimes”
“When fraud is detected, as in this case, Amazon takes a variety of measures to stop the activity, including issuing warnings, closing accounts, and preventing individuals who engaged in refund fraud from opening new accounts,” Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s vice president in charge of seller services, said in a LinkedIn post.