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Loss Prevention Looters: Former Amazon Workers Guilty in $10M Conspiracy

A pair of former Amazon employees pleaded guilty in a U.S District Court in Georgia on Wednesday to defrauding the company of nearly $10 million.

Kayricka Wortham and Demetrius Hines both worked in managerial and loss prevention roles for the Seattle-based retail giant. According to prosecutors, they used their positions to create fictitious invoices for false vendors that resulted in the duo and their co-conspirators receiving approximately $9.4 million in fraudulent claims routed into bank accounts set up by the accused, prosecutors charged.

Prosecutors alleged this enterprise went on from August of 2020 to March of 2022.

“The defendants abused their trusted positions to steal nearly $10 million from the company over the course of just a few months,” U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said. “This staggering fraud was fueled by pure greed, as evidenced by the high-end real estate, luxury cars, and expensive jewelry that the defendants quickly accumulated with their fraudulent proceeds.”

Prosecutors said ringleader Wortham, a 31-year-old from Atlanta, “recruited other individuals to act as purported vendor contacts for the fake vendors entered into Amazon’s system. She recruited Hines into the scheme and asked him to supply individuals’ information that could be used as fake vendor contacts.”

Hines, 35 of Smyrna, Ga., was among those recruits, prosecutors said, and both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

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In addition to potential prison time to be determined at sentencing on March 8, 2023, the two were required to forfeit more than $3 million in assets acquired with the ill-gotten gains.

Included among Wortham’s $2.7 million in proceeds were a 2019 Lamborghini Urus, a 2021 Dodge Durango, a 2022 Tesla Model X, a 2018 Porsche Panamera, and a Kawasaki ZX636 motorcycle.

Hines will relinquish more than $600,000 in cash as well as merchandise that included a 2022 Suzuki GSX1300 Motorcycle, a 2013 Ford Shelby Mustang, a 2021 Ford F-150 Black Widow, a Rolex Day-Date watch, a diamond bracelet, and a diamond necklace.

A third individual, Brittany Hudson, 37 of Atlanta, has also been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

“Hudson was in a relationship with Wortham and owned a business, Legend Express LLC, which contracted with Amazon to deliver packages to customers. Hudson allegedly conspired with Wortham to submit fictitious invoices for fake vendors as part of the scheme,” prosecutors allege.

Hudson’s case is still pending.

Prosecutors charge that Wortham, an operations manager at the Amazon warehouse in Smyrna, would provide fake vendor information to subordinates and have them place them into the system. Those fake vendors would then submit false invoices reporting goods and services provided to Amazon. Those payments, which prosecutors say Wortham would typically approve, went into bank accounts controlled by the accused.

Hines was employed as a loss prevention multi-site lead, also at the Smyrna facility.

U.S. prosecutors cooperated with Secret Service on the case.

“These defendants attempted to hide their scheme in plain sight by using their unique roles within their company to conceal the actions from which they fraudulently benefitted,” said U.S. Secret Service Atlanta special agent in charge Steven Baisel. 

Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.