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FBI: Delivery drivers involved in Amazon theft ring (wthr.com)
143 points by georgecmu 76 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 114 comments



How on earth did Amazon not catch this first, that it took a police officer to notice?

Every month or so, run a report correlating customer reports of missing boxes or missing items in boxes, with all fulfillment and delivery people who handle it along the chain.

If there are any strong statistical correlations which pop up, bingo -- you've probably got a thief. Tail them and catch them.

Feels like delivery theft prevention 101, and so much benefit for so little cost.


1. Amazon is revenue focused

2. 3% shrink is accepted in retail, that is 6+ billion dollars they are ok with losing.

3. Data is large and hard to get at Amazon. Just getting access to a database without direct VP help is sometimes impossible

4. Compute resources to 'run a report' on terabytes of data are even harder to get.

5. Manager changes every six months

6. Devs last ~18 months so no one is there long enough to care about solving a cost issue.

7. There is NO REVENUE in catching thieves, so there is little to no exec sponsorship

8. Often management is involved in fraud or theft rings.


While 3 and 4 may be true currently, it's a lame excuse. Amazon is the probably the largest provider of services like that at the moment. I think it's more than terabytes of data, but even then, it should be trivial to do for them - https://aws.amazon.com/emr/ If they're ok with losing 6+ billion, then what's the cost of 5 engineers and some large instances in comparison?

So does it really boil down to - VP doesn't care enough?

> 6. Devs last ~18 months so no one is there long enough to care about solving a cost issue.

Are you saying devs set project priorities and cannot be assigned where the work needs to be done?

> 7. There is NO REVENUE in catching thieves

That directly contradicts point 2. Apparently there's a potential for preventing 6+ billion dollars of lost revenue.

From the article:

> $428,000 fencing stolen items, much of it on Amazon.

That's enough to put a dev on this problem for a year with required infra and still save some extra money - just from that single pawn shop.


> That directly contradicts point 2. Apparently there's a potential for preventing 6+ billion dollars of lost revenue.

But not in a single budget anywhere in the company.

And, it's all about MY local budget. You're asking ME to put a couple of devs on something that might pay off half a million dollars. Maybe. And, if it doesn't those devs could have been deployed elsewhere.

Uh, yeah, no. Not on my watch. I'm going to put those devs on something that might get me a bonus or promoted, thanks.


Thinking like this at Amazon gets you stalled at the L6 (manager 2) level. I can think of about 5 managers I've dealt with who acted like this in the past 4 years. As a senior tech person I was asked for feedback on them and gave something to the equivalent of the motivations you listed above. They were all managed out quickly.

By the time management is asking me for my opinion there is usually a worry about a person and I'm just providing data.

Also saving the company $6bn with "one wierd trick" ticks all the amamazon promo boxes and usually skyrockets you.


> They were all managed out quickly.

What? Why? Putting devs on something that will provide benefit rather than might is hardly a firing offense. I simply don't believe you.

> Also saving the company $6bn with "one wierd trick" ticks all the amamazon promo boxes and usually skyrockets you.

IF you can get it implemented. Something which crosses political boundaries is ferociously hard to get implemented unless there is credit that can be claimed by all involved.


> What? Why? Putting devs on something that will provide benefit rather than might is hardly a firing offense. I simply don't believe you.

I don’t work at Amazon but failing to see past your own team’s mission and missing your role in the larger company is a (common) failure of management.


managed out doesn't necessarily mean fired, probably demoted or moved into less important positions.


I'm sorry if that's really your view. There are both divisions in corps and people who think beyond a single bonus. I wish we started calling this out as "culture at Amazon enables thieves" rather than - here's a list of excuses why they can't do it.

At the very least, the higher ups with the view of the overall budget have the power to start projects like that which assign the budget as necessary.


> At the very least, the higher ups with the view of the overall budget have the power to start projects like that which assign the budget as necessary.

Except they won't because if it fails, their name is associated with it and they will get punished.

Most politics in big companies is about avoiding sins of commission as they are easy to spot--sins of omission are a lot tougher to identify and punish.


The "they will get punished" is a bit extreme. Big corps have both teams trying new things and maintaining existing ones. The proportions vary widely, but things get tired and fail all the time. If people get fired over trying something, that would make a very dysfunctional company. The budget for validating if they can stop some stolen deliveries would not be worth mentioning in most meetings.

Although I haven't been in Amazon specifically, in my experience in corp, the worst that happens to bad mid-level managers is that they're moved to a different project. And that's actually overall bad managers, not someone trying out an idea.


7 doesn't contradict 2. If you are the loss prevention VP in charge of stopping theft, and you reduced the number of reshipped items, you are decreasing a cost account. The revenue account for sold goods was already increased when the item was sold. The revenue account belongs to the retail group. They look good as long as sales are made. The cost account belongs to the LP group. They start out looking very BAD with huge losses and have to fight to get their costs back to zero.

For this reason large companies might group all their cost groups such as shipping, LP, fraud, etc into one big organization with special protections so they won't be cannibalized by revenue generating groups that have more political power.

> That's enough to put a dev on this problem for a year with required infra and still save some extra money - just from that single pawn shop.

If LP saves 400k, retail doesn't cut them a check for the 400k. They are on fixed budget, usually small because it is considered good money after bad. And at Amazon it is easier for devs and managers just to transfer to a shiny new AWS project than try to reduce costs.


Don't we always read articles about how Amazon is a rational, data-driven entity? Stuff like this makes it seem like Amazon is a normal big retail company like Walmart, and should be valued accordingly.


It's valued as walmart+aws.


Could you explain point 6 a bit more?


What's there to say? Amazon is a revolving door of developers, most of which don't make it to 2 years.

It would take a year or more for a dev to become familiar enough with their domain and its systems to even know to suggest a report that would sniff out this fraud, and even more time for them to have the political capital to get support for the project.


That's what confuses me. I don't understand how anything gets done. It takes a year just to get settled in at a place like that.


There are PE's and people that have been there for years even decades that have lots of power and clout to do things associated with revenue and not get canned on multi-year or multi-month projects. Then there are the thousands of new hires that are just fodder to try to quickly get a select few managers and engineers promoted before they are canned. They essentially don't get anything of value done and do throw away work. A lot of it has to do with perceptions.


Initially you get small tasks on a small project. In a few months you are quite settled in for your position. (Let's say some integration service maintenance.)


Not OP but, from what I've heard it sucks working at Amazon even in engineering.


Amazon doesn’t collect its business data in an instance of its own warehouse product?


You're looking at 4-5 different transactional systems with 1-1000 TB of data. You won't be getting access to those things since they process perhaps $1 MM of revenue per minute. Maybe you can use their ETL system if it is not overloaded. The query to join warehouse, shipping, delivery, orders, catalog probably will run 12 hours and cost $5000 dollars. Executives would rather have one line in their 300 page metrics booklet that says "item cost reshipped to customer suspected theft." If it is under $1 million per day I doubt they would care.


Amazon sells ETL, warehouse, BI, and analytical query tools as solutions to these problems; it’s surprising that they’re not dogfooded.


Part of AWS sells those things. AWS started 12 years after Amazon.com. Amazon has large BI orgs to build custom systems costing tens of millions of dollars.

AWS was not considered secure enough for Amazon.com critical data as of a few years ago, maybe still is not. Look at the capital one breach due to S3.

Amazon does not just give a no-limit AWS account to each of their thousands of team. In fact they are more likely to tell the team to solve it with no resources. Rival teams will want an unpopular cost savings project like this to fail so they can have more headcount and budget.


For all we know they do have this system in place. But shit happens; one weekend some Hadoop nodes lock up, bunch of associated jobs fail, and maybe it's not high on the priority list to rerun the query or investigate or the person familiar with the job is away. And so this time a bunch of fraud goes uncaught.


From the advertising copy,I would think that AWS makes tasks like this totally trivial!


Trivial != cost-effective


Can you explain the last 8th point further?


Thousands of managers. Not all are honest. As an example, I toured an FC once and there was a still boxed perfect $9000 TV sitting in the damaged area. Most retail has a policy that damaged has to be destroyed. In reality places I have worked, managers came through and picked through it.

This is nothing new for retail or warehouses. If a manager is suspected of helping thieves, they might be moved around instead of fired due to politics.


I have worked in the shipping industry (shipping as in ocean transportation). We had a very high rate of damage to pallets containing beer. A forklift clips a 6 pack on the corner breaking one or two bottles. Insurance pays out for entire pallet, stevedores go home with a lot of beer.

Theft was considered a insurable cost of business. I am sure insurance rates were priced accordingly. I am also sure our rate of theft was no different to any other port in the country.


When I worked at Best Buy years ago our Inventory/LP manager was fired (and later arrested from what I heard) because he was involved in a theft ring with other Inventory/LP managers/supervisors across the district. If I remember correctly, they were transferring items between stores and then saying they never arrived.


you know what I think is funny? if 3% loss is acceptable than why do these people even get prosecuted? deterrent so that it's not 4%? sure but there's something unsatisfying about that as justification for imprisoning someone.

before someone accuses me of being a communist hippie I have a thought experiment for you: every 5 years I do spring cleaning by taking all of the boxes drawers etc of accumulated consumer goods junk I haven't looked inside of in the past 5 year and just take them to good will. I reason that if it hasn't been important in the last 5 years it never will be and that I would waste more time (money) looking closely. now the thought experiment: suppose someone had broken into my house over the last 5 years and stolen something from one of those receptacles that was eventually thrown out. should I be upset? now note that I'm not asking if I'm legally entitled to being upset but whether it would be rational to be upset.

but let me actually put on my hippie commie beatnik hat: there is so much money sloshing around in the economy and inefficiencies that entrepreneurs exploit to become wealthy. most of it is above board but some of it isn't and whether those people get punished or not is largely a function of whether they're caught before they're super successful or not. what is the difference here? these people saw an inefficiency and took advantage of it. to put a sort of hyberbolic point on it: why is this theft but selling toxic cdos not? in both "transactions" ultimately one party profited at the expense of the counterparty.

Edit: I love the downvotes. What exactly about my comment isn't "curious" as dang loves to exhort. God forbid someone questions the most totalitarian institution the human mind has ever conceived of: the law. HN is no different from every other pointless echo chamber that double speaks about freedom but suppresses dissenting opinions.


> suppose someone had broken into my house over the last 5 years and stolen something from one of those receptacles that was eventually thrown out. should I be upset? now note that I'm not asking if I'm legally entitled to being upset but whether it would be rational to be upset.

A person's response to being burglarized is never purely rational. You've got the distress of the initial discovery, followed by the subsequent process of figuring out what (if anything) they stole, modified, or left behind, and the process of reporting the crime to authorities. Then you'll deal with self-blame about not investing more in home security and uncertainty about whether these thieves will come back for what they left behind (did they break in knowing you were gone, or did they mistakenly think you were home...?). Even if you had excellent video surveillance coverage that proved that they only took stuff you'd forgotten about, the burglar(s) violated your personal space, which obviously feels pretty awful, and may have broken something on their way in. The negativity of getting burglarized is irrational in nature and difficult to quantify in economic terms, but is nevertheless real.

In conclusion, I'd say every victim of B&E has great reasons to be upset, regardless of what (if anything) was stolen.


all of that is certainly true but not the point of my thought experiment because I'm sure Amazon the corporation doesn't experience emotional distress from having its personal space violated (so I'm sure that there won't be punitive damages for emotional distress in their sentences).


But... your thought experiment was specifically about a hypothetical burglary perpetrated against a person, and specifically did not mention Amazon or corporations.


Yes to illustrate a point about Amazon's margins, not to compare the person's emotional duress to Amazon's


It's hard to answer without knowing what you consider "rational". You're asking about an emotion, and a negative one at that. When is being upset ever "rational" in your mind in the first place? It's pretty nonproductive as far as the external world is concerned, and it sucks away your time and energy. The way you've posed it I don't see when it's ever rational, unless you're the type of person who thinks "I'm going to cry anyway, so I'll set myself a reminder to cry when I'm free at 5pm today because otherwise it'll interrupt my work tomorrow".


Look into the Broken Windows theory: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_windows_theory

If you let criminals get away with breaking into someone's house and stealing things, it sends a message to other people that crime is allowed. Crime rates start to rise because no one is doing anything about it. People who were not criminals before are now comfortable being criminals because they know they won't be caught.

If you don't prosecute the small crimes, it often leads to bigger crimes.


This isn't broken windows

He's pointing out that the 3% margin should exist evenly, so adding 1% theft on top means you'll hit 4%. So in order to pull of this stunt, they needed to make sure their margins were below 3%. But if you can get your margins below 3%, then why isn't that mandated?

This is forgiving people who break windows, but not people who carefully don't break windows so that they can then purposefully break windows as often as most people accidentally break windows


If that's the case, then they're woefully misinformed about the realities of retail. 3% shrinkage is accepted because below that it's mostly unpreventable accidental damages. Above that is either theft or preventable accidental damages.

If my server logs say I had three errors today but everything is running fine, I'm probably going to let it slide. I have more important things to work on. If they say there have been 100 errors today, even if everything seems to be working fine I'm going to take the time to investigate and probably push a patch. Not that those 3 errors aren't important, but it's hardly worth my time to track down every error unless something is broken.

Either way it's interpreted, it's not a terribly insightful comment.


I pre-empted you

>deterrent so that it's not 4%?

My point is imprisoning someone to "send a message" rather than for the effect of the crime is cruel.


No, your response indicates you do not understand the broken windows theory at all. I would suggest you go back and read it. I linked it for a reason.

You're imprisoning criminals for the crimes they committed, not just to send a message. But imprisoning criminals for committing crimes does send a message and that message is that crime is not tolerated.

You might be okay with someone breaking into your house to steal your personal property without your permission but I'm going to guess you're not okay with someone breaking into your house and murdering your entire family. Would you then argue that it would be cruel to imprison the murderer? Because it would just be to "send a message" the murder is wrong?

No, of course not. They committed a crime, and that's what they're being punished for. Punishing criminals does not reduce the crime rate. It's the act of not punishing them that increases the crime rate.

Note that this comment does not remove the need for you to read the linked wiki article.


I responded to your comment rather than broken windows policy, on which the consensus is not at all as solid as your tone suggests

https://cebcp.org/evidence-based-policing/what-works-in-poli...

>recent systematic review by Braga, Welsh and Schnell (2015) found that policing strategies focused on disorder overall had a statistically significant, modest impact on reducing all types of crime. This positive effect was driven by the success of place-based, problem-oriented interventions. In contrast, there was no significant overall impact of aggressive order maintenance strategies. Thus, they conclude that police can successfully reduce disorder and non-disorder crime through disorder policing efforts, but the types of strategies matter.

That was entailed in me conceding that letting these people go free would probably bump the shrink to 4%.

Now your comment was

>If you let criminals get away with breaking into someone's house and stealing things, it sends a message to other people that crime is allowed.

To which I explicitly called back to by responding

>My point is imprisoning someone to "send a message" rather than for the effect of the crime is cruel.


> My point is imprisoning someone to "send a message" rather than for the effect of the crime is cruel.

So you're saying punitive damages (should) violate the 8th amendment? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punitive_damages https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruel_and_unusual_punishment


Yes I think I'm comfortable with that position.


I, for one, would prefer my unused stuff went to a charity of my choosing than a thief.


> suppose someone had broken into my house over the last 5 years and stolen something from one of those receptacles that was eventually thrown out. should I be upset?

Should you be upset if they raided good will safe too?


I often get packages marked as delivered, then when I call Amazon to ask where the package is, they call the driver and then come back saying that the driver decided not to deliver the package and instead just marked it delivered.

This is considered a satisfactory resolution by Amazon. There's no shock from their representative, there's no apology. This is just a normal thing that happened. They don't really care what these delivery people are doing.


I used to get this with my local mail carriers a lot. My block was one of the last stops for them so if it got too late they would just mark it delivered and actually deliver it the next business day. The post office did not seem to care either.


It's usually just drivers trying to meet quota, not thieves.


I'm not saying they're thieves. I'm saying Amazon has created an environment where it would be easy for thieves to get away with it.


From the article, it's not clear to me how the investigation began...could it have started with a tip from Amazon?

> A police detective last summer noticed that one of the drivers had dozens of pawn shop transactions, and thus began an investigation that uncovered a theft ring that sold millions of dollars' worth of stolen goods on Amazon.com in the past six years, the FBI said.

Why was a police detective looking at the driver's transactions? Would be interesting to know.


Pawn transactions, not delivery transactions.

Police have access to pawn transactions and use them to investigate crimes. There's a crap ton of regulations around pawn shop transactions, they are open to the authorities.

If you note your serial number of your MacBook and your MacBook is stolen then you fill out a police report with the serial number and your MacBook then if your MacBook is sold to a pawn shop then your MacBook would be recovered.


They weren't looking at the drivers transactions. They were looking at the pawnshop transactions, and noticed the same person sold a large number of items.


Do police regularly audit pawn shops sales under a KYC type law?


Yes. Patriot Act creates a centralized database of pawn shop transactions for law enforcement. I know homeland security periodically reviews transactions but I’m not sure whether local law enforcement does unless they have a reason to.


Here in Virginia Beach the pawn shops have to send a daily report of transactions to the police department.

This also applies to scrap yards. They must submit to authorities a daily report of all scrap received and by who.

I don't know how this has passed legal muster. In the article they state: "Detectives also conducted undercover operations in which they sold new items in their original packaging to the shops, which accepted them no questions asked"

So now Pawn Shops are required to interrogate their customers?


Oddly enough, pawn shops are considered “financial institutions” under the Bank Secrecy Act/Patriot Act. They actually might be even more regulated than traditional banks when it comes to KYC. I’ve never done any work for pawnshops but I’m pretty sure they need to get all the usual ID that a bank would _plus_ a physical description of the customer (height, weight, hair color, race, tattoos, etc.).

Also, the Patriot Act is a major invasion of privacy. SCOTUS says it’s Constitutional but I think there would be riots in the streets if people really understood the kind of surveillance the average law-abiding citizen is subject to under the law.


Stolen goods can be confiscated by police without any compensation for the pawn shop. Therefore it is in their interest to know where the customer got the item from, unless the shop is acting as a fence, as in this case.


Woah small world. I live in Virginia Beach too... :)

Sorry for the off topic reply.


Back at ya.

I am a Machinist so most of my waste is worth money. CHIPS! Brass, Copper, and Bronze if kept virgin can command good scrap rates. I can tell you how that has gone at work. Back in the old days, we all contributed and segregated bronze into a 55 gallon drum. When full, company vehicle takes scrap to scrapyard. So 50 percent lost off the top, but the rest was used to buy shop tools. We had nice accessories. Then management got greedy and wanted it all. Now we don't segregate or care about virgin material. Everybody loses. Crappy tools so people get hurt and less money for the scrap sold.


It really depends on the location, and the items involved.

Gun sales are always audited -- by both the local law enforcement, and the ATF/TTB/DHS. Electronics are generally only audited by the local law enforcement, and if there's something specific that they're looking for, they'll look daily/send officers to the pawn shop.

I've had a break-in to my pawn shop before, and someone stole handguns and a rifle...before the ink was dry on the police report, there was someone that the law enforcement called "the gun whisperer" -- a guy from the ATF who specializes in stolen weapons from dealers -- and they had found the guy and recovered the stolen weapons in less than 72 hours.

We are required to keep descriptors (Sex, Age, Hair, Height, Eyes, body type) in our customer database: we take it a step further by taking a copy of their Driver's License/ID and a copy of their thumbprint.

Source: I own a pawnshop as one of my side businesses.


I had items stolen from my car one evening. When I filed a police report, I was asked to give serial numbers for the items - the police in my county maintained a shared database with all pawn shops for identifying stolen goods.


That is a great question.

I can speculate on a few things:

* Pawn shop owners let police peruse their transaction lists whenever asks. Perhaps similar to how cops may look past low level crimes in order to make bigger cases.

* Perhaps akin to police being able to affect traffic stops in areas with high crime, and/or high incidents of DUI's, the police are allowed to look at records as Pawnshops were a known vector for stolen property.

* The police were investigating theft, where a stolen item showed up in a pawn-shop, and were lawfully reviewing the transaction records.


Pawn shop owners (if they're working within the law) do not really get a say -- we upload our records to a provider who pushes transactions to a state nexus center and if they want specific information (or video) from the transactions, we'll get a visit from the state police or a fax from the local police dept.


Yes, and the shops are required to post to a website called Leads Online.


The investigation is a process

I know someone who embezzled from Walmart and it took them almost a year to get caught. They likely knew within a month but wanted to make sure they got them


Implemented this on the UK’s road worthiness test system. We check for things like tests being completed in two seconds, dodgy pass rate etc. We actually had a leaderboard of the dodgiest garages when I was working on it


Did anything happen to those garages? And out of interest, where they clustered around a particular part of the country? I’d imagine London was a hotspot.


If it's anything like where I live then enforcement doesn't have enough resources to actively do anything so probably nothing unless/until they annoy off someone with the right connections to ask the enforcement people for a favor.


Yes, we sent Vehicle Examiners round as mystery shoppers. A lot of people seem to have this impression that MOT garages are all dodgy, but they get caught regularly.

The machine learning piece of work on MOT is probably of a similar size to the actual app at this point (haven't worked on it for a couple of years).

Was a great experience, DVSA was pretty much GDS's poster child at this point so we were using a lot of new and interesting tech.


The items were sold on Amazon, not stolen from Amazon, at least in part. The article is very unclear about whether any of the items were stolen from Amazon, but it does make clear that items were stolen from brick-and-mortar stores.


a) The people on the inside know the weaknesses in the investigative process

b) Amazon wanted to get them prosecuted, not just fired, which has a higher evidence threshold


6 years, 10 millions. That's ~1.67 millions per year, in a local zone only. I get it overall Amazon has a lot of stuff going on, but you do run local reports too, and those managing that local warehouse(s) should've catch that before police did. This smells they had coverage from a higher up in there as well.


They're not saying it all came from Amazon. Much of it seems to have been shoplifted from local stores.


How does a guy (Zghair) convicted of reckless driving get a job as a driver?


Because reckless driving is a weak signal. It covers a huge spectrum of behavior. It should really be called "driving on the aggressive end of reasonable in the presence of a cop" because that describes more of the behavior it's written for than "reckless". Where I'm from it's what you get when they actually have no good reason to pull you over but did it anyway on a hunch that you look like you have drugs or something or if you're dumb enough to talk back at the cop. Sure, a few people are actually "reckless" but there are fancier charges with bigger fines that they actually get and that's what the insurance flags people on.


Why the downvotes? My experience mirrors that of the parent comment. Police in VA use reckless driving (along with several other statutes) as catch-all "I don't like the way you look, so I'm gonna pull you over and hassle you" rules.

Also in VA, anything over 80mph is automatically reckless driving, even when the posted limit is 70mph. Empty, straight interstate and 80mph? Criminal charges, a night in jail (better hope its not a Friday evening, or it becomes a weekend in jail), and expensive lawyer bills. At least residents know about the racket - anybody passing through better hope they don't look get on the wrong side of Johnny Law.


I mean, you could just not break the speed limit...


In most states, going 10 over is not a criminal offense (most traffic offenses != criminal offenses since the mid-1970s in the US, which is why you can usually pay the fine remotely, no court, no lawyer, no jail). It is a criminal offense in VA. And the police use it to selectively harass people.

Anyways, that was just one example. Reckless driving ("you pulled away from that light too fast" even when you were slower than the minivan in the next lane), illegal lane change ("I saw you swerve" even when you didn't), and other statutes are used to pull over anybody the police want with impunity.


Where I live and have been, it's not uncommon to get pulled over for going the speed limit or lower.


I got that charge for "shifting gears" which was "unusual behavior". I won in court, because I drive a manual. But you arent joking. It all needs more perspective.


I got it from campus cops for driving a university owned obvious project vehicle over a speed table on said university campus at exactly the speed limit (in order to ensure that our equipment didn't go out of adjustment if you bottomed out hard).

I changed my behavior for the remainder of my time there to ensure that was the most expensive ticket they'd ever write.


Please read the article. The article says:

>Both drivers worked for Amazon contractor JW Logistics, based in Frisco, Texas. It was unclear how long Zghair had worked for the company, but in 2015, he was convicted of reckless driving in Lewis County after leading police on a chase in excess of 100 mph (161 kph), running red lights, driving across multiple lanes of travel and crashing into a field.


He also presented fake ID to cross the Canadian border.

You don't think he was capable of the same to get a driving job?


I bet the blame here is with one of the insurance companies, rather than the JW Logistics. If the driver can get insured at the same cost as somebody without a reckless driving charge, then there is probably limited downside for the company to hire him.


well depending on your state it may never be reported properly if at all. A recent horrific crash in New Hampshire[1] that killed seven motorcyclist was caused by a driver who never should be on road but records were either not shared with other states, taken in from other states, or even left the bin they got filed in [2] simply because they just sat unprocessed.

[1] https://www.npr.org/2019/06/22/735027835/pickup-truck-in-new...

[2] https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/nearly-900-drivers-suspend...


Is that the case with insuring delivery drivers or are you speculating?


Last sentence in the article:

>Amazon has several requirements for third-party sellers on its website: They must provide a business name, address, contact information, a valid credit card, and tax identity information.

It doesn't seem like that difficult to comply.


That's not really the last sentence in the article. There's an ad break, then a bit more stuff.


You are right, haven't noticed that, cannot correct/edit the previous post anymore, just imagine that there is "near the end of the article" instead of "last".

Anyway, it seems to me very unlike a thorough "vetting" procedure for merchants that you are going to "host" on your platform, if the Author had used "a few" or "very few" instead of "several" it wouldn't have sound "strange" to me.


These days you need to verify photo ID as well.


What if the biggest source of profit in blue collar work is arbitraging / laundering identity?


How did the FBI obtain access to pawnshop transactions? Because the article makes no mention of a court order, making it sound like they were on a fishing expedition.


Remember Lester? Every pawnshop transaction is reported to the police department in some places to stop fencing and recover stolen property.


The article mentions a search warrant, and that local police had first searched the records, which shown an anomaly, which triggered a local investigation.

From the Article:

> ...the FBI said in a search warrant affidavit unsealed last month

> A police detective last summer noticed that one of the drivers had dozens of pawn shop transactions, and thus began an investigation...

> The investigation began last summer when a police detective in Auburn, a south Seattle suburb, was perusing a record of pawn shop sales...

It's not clear why the police were looking at the transaction records, but it's possible they were investigating a theft.


There's a statewide database that every transaction gets reported to.


“According to the search warrant affidavit, two storefront businesses posing as pawn shops bought the goods from shoplifters, then had the items shipped to Amazon warehouses, where they were stored until sold online.”


Like a few other commenters below have indicated - this is a confusing story.

The "fencing" part seems clear. Pawnshops had load of transactions from same people. Pawnshops appeared to be solely flogging new items online, via Amazon - indicating that they weren't functioning as you'd suspect - and were fencing from these amazon drivers and other shop-lifters.

What seems to entirely missing is "Where all this stuff came from?" Well the shoplifted stuff is on some books somewhere as 'shrinkage' - but the stuff that came off the back of an amazon truck??


> The two contract delivery drivers working for Amazon had a clear-cut assignment: They were supposed to bring packages from a warehouse south of Seattle to a post office for shipping, or sometimes drive to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to pick up items that were being returned to the company.

They stole that stuff. It was stuff going to customers, or returns coming back from customers.


Brings a new meaning to "Fulfilled by Amazon".


It was a little intriguing reading this after reading another article: https://www.npr.org/2019/07/30/746600105/1-in-4-food-deliver...

Is delivery drivers stealing from customers' orders the new thing?


If you look at how much the overall volume of deliveries has increased in the past year, it doesn’t seem abnormal. You have something with a very low barrier to entry, and plenty of alternatives to switch between. Contrast this with, for example, working for the US Postal Service. While companies like Uber may resist contractor background checks, when these contractors are doing things like raping your customers, suddenly those background checks may have protected your brand.

My friend has had Amazon packages stolen before, by the delivery person, who thought that as long as he took a photo of the package on the door step he’d win the dispute. I guess he didn’t see the security camera.


The survey they mentioned had a clear goal of selling tamper proof containers, so I'd take that result with a grain of salt. The question "have you ever taken food from an order" is more ambiguous than you'd think. If a customer gave me some food. I may have answered yes. Or if some error had otherwise made the food undeliverable I may have said yes.


When Amazon launched in China, this was a major issue. An independent contractor courier would sign up, get a package, steal it, and disappear.


Steal from Grandmas porch: labelled a "porch pirate", told by police "we don't respond to property crimes, fill out a police report online".

Steal from the richest man in the world: FBI is on the case with military-grade weapons, tactics and surveillance.


In California, at least, Porch Pirates have the law on their side.

California Voters overwhelmingly voted to end the "three strikes" laws, and also make any theft of less than $950 a misdemeanor. See https://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_47,_Reduced_P...

This means you can steal packages from FedEx and UPS or Amazon deliveries from porches to your heart's content (not USPS because they are covered by federal law) and almost certainly never have to spend more than a day or two in jail if you're caught.

The $950 limit was proposed because Californians thought it was "not fair" to be charged with a felony for stealing an iPhone.

In this particular case here, Bezos makes his money back because the article indicated that the stolen items were being sold on Amazon! He'll get paid either way.


I heard about that. Local news interviewed a 7-11 owner who said he's toast because they're so low-margin to begin with, and shoplifting is already high. Maybe one good thing that could come from this: stores move to either online-pickup only, or browse large posters/catalogs in the store and scan what you want, then pick up from the cashier. Products are located in a warehouse divided from customers and they pack your bags for you. 0 shoplifting loss (yes employees could steal), but the benefit for me is more efficient shopping.


The browse then pickup concept is an old one. Service Merchandise and Best did it years ago. They’re out of business so maybe it didn’t work so well.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalog_merchant


They had tablets in the 90's. They never took off so it's obviously not a viable product.


This really comes down to the fact that, in this case, there was clear evidence that stolen goods, and hence the crime, crossed state lines.


Really big organized crime is more important and gets more resources than small crime. Woah.


This kind of thing probably solves many "porch pirate" cases where it was actually the delivery driver stealing the items.


> Steal from the richest man in the world: FBI is on the case with military-grade weapons, tactics and surveillance.

Steal from the richest man in the world * that avoids paying taxes * : FBI is on the case with military-grade weapons, tactics and surveillance * paid by taxpayers *.




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