TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida woman is accused of scamming Amazon out of $165,000 in reimbursements for shipping costs she never paid, investigators said.
Hoia Tibma, 32, of Tampa, was arrested Friday and charged with second-degree grand theft, the Tampa Bay Times reported. She was released after posting $7,500 bail, the newspaper reported.
According to a news release from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department, Tibma took advantage of a loophole in Amazon’s shipping policies over five years, making it appear she had paid to return packages.
Investigators claim that between March 2015 to August 2020, Tibma used old prepaid labels to return items, the sheriff’s office said. She was reimbursed $3.99 for 42,000 returns that totaled $165,000, the news release stated. Tibma used 31 Amazon accounts that were all linked to an address in Tampa, Bay News 9 reported.
Eleven of the accounts had been suspended by Oct. 21, the date the sheriff’s office filed the affidavit, the Times reported.
The sheriff’s office and Amazon each conducted their own investigation, the affidavit stated.
“This woman took advantage of a loophole she discovered in the return process,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in the release. “Through investigative means, our Economic Crimes detectives were able to quickly locate and apprehend the suspect. She was arrested without incident.”
In a statement to Bay News 9, Amazon said the company tries 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,” Amazon said. "We identified this threat and cooperated with law enforcement to hold this bad actor accountable.
If convicted, Tibma faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, the Times reported.