The four men—Yoel Abraham, Zishe Abraham, Heshl Abraham, and Shmuel Abraham—were arrested by federal agents on August 19 and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. It is unclear if they have acquired legal representation.
According to the complaint, the brothers allegedly opened vendor accounts on Amazon in order to fraudulently induce the retailer to pay exorbitant sums of money for goods it had not ordered. The brothers were allegedly able to successfully obtain an estimated $19 million from the fraud scheme.
The defendants, who purportedly ran wholesale businesses, opened vendor accounts with Amazon to sell small quantities of goods. Through Amazon’s vendor system, the defendants purportedly agreed to fulfil purchase orders and supply specific goods, at set prices and quantities. They instead manipulated the system and billed Amazon for unrelated goods at inflated prices and high quantities, the complaint claims.
For example, the complaint alleges that in early 2018, the brothers agreed to ship an order of disinfectant spray to Amazon for $94. However, they instead shipped 7,000 individual toothbrushes for $94 each, and then billed Amazon $658,000 for the order. In another example from July 2018, a vendor purportedly bought one bottle of designer perfume for $290, but the defendants allegedly shipped 927 units of a plastic grooming tool for $290 each, bringing the total to approximately $270,000.
The indictment claims the defendants communicated to one another about the scheme and helped one another to avoid detection by using an encrypted group texting chain on the messaging application WhatsApp. In May 2018, Yoel Abraham allegedly stated in the group, “I’m so in the mood to f*ck Amazon,” and asked, “Did anyone try to overship and make a million profit in a week?” Other messages included Zishe Abraham asking Yoel Abraham how he would do it. Shmuel Abraham also allegedly offered his advice on how to handle large fraudulent transactions, and Heshl Abraham purportedly circulated a link to a virtual private server (VPS) he was using to avoid detection.
Once Amazon detected the pattern of alleged fraud, it suspended the group’s vendor accounts. In response, the brothers allegedly tried to open other vendor accounts using fake identities, different email addresses, and virtual private servers in order to hide their connection to the previously suspended accounts and prevent Amazon from detecting and mitigating the alleged fraud.
According to the indictment, in November 2018, the defendants allegedly discussed how Amazon’s increasing fraud monitoring was going to force them to give up the scheme and go into a legitimate line of business. They also allegedly discussed new ways to evade detection and continue to perpetrate the alleged fraud.
Wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud are serious offenses that carry a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Money laundering is an equally severe crime with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each count. Anyone suspected of committing financial crimes of this kind should immediately consult an experienced attorney. A good attorney can provide an unbiased assessment of the case and figure out the best way to minimize the penalties or have the charges dropped.
South Florida Fraud Defense Attorney
Are you accused of committing wire fraud and money laundering in South Florida? Contact Brian Silber P.A. to set up a free initial consultation and work with one of South Florida’s most experienced fraud defense attorneys.