Man defrauds Apple of $1M in refunds on claims company sent empty boxes to customers

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in General Discussion
A Michigan man on Monday admitted to running an "empty-box" fraud scheme that cost Apple some $1 million in refunds for products that were claimed undelivered.




Van-Seyla Mork, 25, pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and money laundering in San Jose federal court as part of a plea deal, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California.

The scam, referred to as an "empty-box" scheme, saw Mork initiate fraudulent complaints over supposedly undelivered items purchased from Apple, presumably from the company's online store.

On behalf of customers, Mork would call Apple support and claim an empty box had arrived at a customer's home instead of a purchased product. The company subsequently issued refunds for the allegedly undelivered items, money that Mork stashed in multiple bank accounts in an attempt to confuse a potential future investigation.

In admitting the scheme, Mork said he was fully aware that the customer support calls were made under false pretenses, as he knew customers had indeed received their orders in the mail. How Mork collected the funds was not made clear and co-conspirators were not named by the U.S. Attorney or Federal Bureau of Investigation in the public release.

The ultimate vapor ware, "empty-box" scams typically see an online seller take advantage of marketplace refund policies by fulfilling orders with empty boxes. Certain online sales platform purchase guidelines shift responsibility for an item from seller to customer once a package is signed for at delivery, in some cases allowing nefarious vendors to avoid refund payouts.

Mork was charged in 2018 with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, five counts of wire fraud and four counts of money laundering, but pled guilty to one count each of wire fraud and money laundering under a plea agreement. Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, plus restitution, while the maximum penalty for one count of money laundering is 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $500,000, plus restitution.

Mork is out on bond and is scheduled to face sentencing on Oct. 21.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    EsquireCatsEsquireCats Posts: 534member
    These are the sorts of scams which are transparent to the vendor (in this case Apple). It is straight forward to identify where the theft has taken place. After that the vendor works with law enforcement to uncover the full extent/participants of the scheme and together they build up a robust set of evidence so it's not too small a matter for the court.

    Do the participants think that companies just go "oh well, we'll take you word for it and not follow up whatsoever".
    mwhiteleavingthebiggfastasleepflyingdppscooter63
  • Reply 2 of 9
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 651member
    These are the sorts of scams which are transparent to the vendor (in this case Apple). It is straight forward to identify where the theft has taken place. After that the vendor works with law enforcement to uncover the full extent/participants of the scheme and together they build up a robust set of evidence so it's not too small a matter for the court.

    Do the participants think that companies just go "oh well, we'll take you word for it and not follow up whatsoever".
    A million dollars though ....   Shouldn’t $75,000-$100,000 be enough for prosecutors to bite?
    bloggerblog
  • Reply 3 of 9
    flydogflydog Posts: 259member
    williamh said:
    These are the sorts of scams which are transparent to the vendor (in this case Apple). It is straight forward to identify where the theft has taken place. After that the vendor works with law enforcement to uncover the full extent/participants of the scheme and together they build up a robust set of evidence so it's not too small a matter for the court.

    Do the participants think that companies just go "oh well, we'll take you word for it and not follow up whatsoever".
    A million dollars though ....   Shouldn’t $75,000-$100,000 be enough for prosecutors to bite?
    Where does it state that prosecutors wouldn't "bite" unless it exceeded a certain dollar amount?

    jbdragonpscooter63
  • Reply 4 of 9
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,950member
    We are constantly treated to anecdotal stories about how horrible Apple is about replacing defective devices. Tomes and tomes of text describing bad treatment and refusals to honor warranties. Yet here is another story about how easy it is to defraud Apple out of millions of dollars by using their liberal exchange policies against them. I don;t know about the rest of you but something doesn’t add up here. And through it all Apple’s reputation for great customer service prevails in every poll and survey out there.
    edited May 14 badmonk
  • Reply 5 of 9
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,019member
    They should make him pay full restitution plus fines, throw him in jail for 25 years, and then deport him back to Ork.
    randominternetpersonroundaboutnow
  • Reply 6 of 9
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,297member
    Ya gotta admire his planning and ingenuity.   Maybe Apple should hire him rather than jail him.
  • Reply 7 of 9
    dewme said:
    They should make him pay full restitution plus fines, throw him in jail for 25 years, and then deport him back to Ork.
    Nanu, nanu!
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 8 of 9
    I appreciate the photo of an empty box to accompany the story.  I would have had a hard time envisioning it otherwise.  I would have appreciated a cool Apple box however; they do some interesting things with packaging.
  • Reply 9 of 9
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,679member
    Send the dork back to Ork. 

    Why do scum think they can get away with it?
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