Florida woman returned 42,000 Amazon items in $100k reimbursement scheme, deputies say

Southwest

TAMPA (NewsNation Now) — A Florida woman is accused of running a fraudulent return scheme involving dozens of Amazon accounts that resulted in her receiving more than $100,000, deputies said.

From March 2015 until August 2020, investigators said Hoai Tibma, 32, operated a scheme in which she reused prepaid shipping labels generated for canceled orders, and then applied them on other returns.

“Basically, what she was doing is claiming she was paying for shipping prices and she didn’t do it,” said Amanda Granit, a spokesperson for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

The tactic, the sheriff’s office says, would make it appear that she had paid for her own shipping costs on the returns when she actually did not.

Tibma completed 42,000 individual returns on the 31 different accounts, the sheriff’s office said. Those returns resulted in more than $100,000 reimbursed to Tibma’s name.

According to the Criminal Report Affidavit, those returns resulted in more than $165,000 reimbursed to Tibma’s name.

The court document states “when Amazon received the packages they would refund the defendants’ account in the amount of $3.99 a package.”

Investigators wrote that Amazon was able to provide documents dating back to the start of 2020 proving a loss of $20,273.19 from 5,081 returns from Tibma’s accounts. Eleven of them are currently suspended by Amazon.

Tibma has bonded out of jail since her arrest on October 23.

She answered the door when NewsNation affiliate WFLA went to her home in Palm Harbor. She had no comment when asked what she was doing making all those returns and she added she has not yet retained an attorney.

“They have a fraud department and they were tracking her for a while,” Granit said of the tip deputies received from Amazon.

Tibma’s Amazon accounts were registered to a different address on Sheldon Creek Boulevard in Tampa.

Neighbors there told NewsNation affiliate WFLA they would notice daily deliveries coming to her door. One said she noticed boxes piling up to the ceiling inside the town home. Another neighbor said when Tibma and her husband moved out, he said they were keeping the address for “her business.”  

“This woman took advantage of a loophole she discovered in the return process,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “Through investigative means, our Economic Crimes detectives were able to quickly locate and apprehend the suspect. She was arrested without incident.”

An Amazon spokesperson told WFLA: “We work hard to build a great experience for our customers and sellers and take action to protect them from those that threaten their experience in our store. We have systems and processes to detect suspicious behavior and we have teams that investigate and take action quickly. We identified this threat and cooperated with law enforcement to hold this bad actor accountable.”

Deputies said Tibma reportedly admitted to the crimes. She is charged with one count of grand theft.

NewsNation affiliate WFLA contributed to this report.

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