BOSTON — A West Roxbury woman was convicted today in federal court in Boston in connection with a return fraud scheme.
Tamara Khatuntseva, 64, was sentenced by US District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to 90 days in jail and three years on probation. Khatuntseva was also ordered to pay restitution of $85,499 and forfeiture of $83,806. On August 5, 2021, Khatuntseva pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
In December 2018, law enforcement opened an investigation into several individuals suspected of engaging in fraudulent activity at Massachusetts runway stores. From December 2018 to August 2020, Khatuntseva engaged in a scheme to defraud a store by refunding substandard merchandise, including high-end and expensive jewelry, clothing, handbags, luggage and shoes. . Specifically, Khatuntseva purchased high-end retail products from the store and fraudulently returned lesser value items in their stead for a full refund. Khatuntseva then sold the legitimate merchandise on eBay for hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal profits. For example, Khatuntseva was caught on CCTV buying a pink Gucci scarf for $399, which was later listed for sale on an eBay site associated with Khatuntseva. Several days later, CCTV showed Khatuntseva returning a different scarf – with the same barcode – and receiving a full refund. To continue her scheme, Khatuntseva used two different eBay accounts, opened credit cards in her daughter’s name and purchased the same red security tags used by the store to disguise fraudulent returns as legitimate merchandise. On August 27, 2020, a search of Khatuntseva’s home uncovered 42 items that she planned to sell on eBay or fraudulently return. The victim company is estimated to have lost between $40,000 and $150,000 as a result of the scheme.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division, made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura J. Kaplan of Rollins’ Criminal Division prosecuted the case.