How an Amazon Worker Stole iPads

A worker in Amazon's packaging department in India figured out how to deliver electronics to himself:

Since he was employed with the packaging department, he had easy access to order numbers. Using the order numbers, he packed his order himself; but instead of putting pressure cookers in the box, he stuffed it with iPhones, iPads, watches, cameras, and other expensive electronics in the pressure cooker box. Before dispatching the order, the godown also has a mechanism to weigh the package. To dodge this, Bhamble stuffed equipment of equivalent weight," an officer from Vithalwadi police station said. Bhamble confessed to the cops that he had ordered pressure cookers thrice in the last 15 days. After he placed the order, instead of, say, packing a five-kg pressure cooker, he would stuff gadgets of equivalent weight. After receiving delivery clearance, he would then deliver the goods himself and store it at his house. Speaking to mid-day, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone IV) Vasant Jadhav said, "Bhamble's job profile was of goods packaging at Amazon.com's warehouse in Bhiwandi.

Posted on July 24, 2015 at 12:49 PM • 30 Comments

Comments

BillJuly 24, 2015 1:14 PM

Wonder if this guy got caught because he got flagged for buying lots of pressure cookers (not by Amazon, but by Homeland Security)

rgaffJuly 24, 2015 1:20 PM

@ Bill

Exactly.

I was about to say... aren't pressure cookers considered highly-monitored bomb-making materials nowadays? Like you search for one of those on google, then search for backpacks, and you get an investigation going, kind of thing? Let alone having several delivered to your house!

MikeAJuly 24, 2015 1:30 PM

Wouldn't it be safer to have all those pressure cookers delivered to the empty homes of people you know work late?

OTOH, this is the Amazon that, when a friend ordered aluminum powder (for a custom paint job) helpfully commented that "people who bought this item also bought" iron oxide.

CallMeLateForSupperJuly 24, 2015 1:35 PM

@all

"[...] the godown also has a mechanism to weigh the package."

"Godown". Cute, I thought, assuming it to be a local term, chosen because it is descriptive of the function of e.g. a conveyer belt. Sorry, no, says Wikipedia by way of redirecting my search to "warehouse".

Proof positive that there are still things to learn. :-)

If reports out of Britain can be believed, Amazon drones ("fulfillment associates"; whatever the PC term is) are "ridden hard and put away wet". I would think that those people would find. um... extra-curricular activities difficult to fit in.

atolJuly 24, 2015 1:36 PM

Bill and rgaff -- This happened in India...Homeland Security probably wasn't too concerned. ;)

foocJuly 24, 2015 1:36 PM

> because he got flagged for buying lots of pressure cookers (not by
> Amazon, but by Homeland Security)

Not amazon USA. This is amazon India for Indian market.

BillJuly 24, 2015 1:44 PM

@atol & @fooc

Didn't realize it was India (guess I shoulda read the article). </end-conspiracy-theory>

JereJuly 24, 2015 1:45 PM

I don't really see the "figured out" part here. Amazon surely keeps track of their inventory and must have raised a flag when certain items started disappearing.

I was sort of expecting a story on how this guy circumvented the inventory control system and cleverly went unnoticed for a long period of time, or at least showed some effort at not getting caught. He hardly figured anything out though.

NaugahydeJuly 24, 2015 1:46 PM

I have no way to tell how he got caught. However, considering the value and size of items like iPads, I wouldn't be surprised if they were monitoring inventory levels.

rgaffJuly 24, 2015 1:49 PM

India doesn't change the gist of what I was saying... only changes the department from homeland security to something else... after all, doesn't America still want to stop every act of terrorism worldwide, even in India? Isn't that why they insist they need to monitor every single communication worldwide, for our "own benefit"?

SorlenJuly 24, 2015 3:27 PM

If you have ever worked with indian firms and warehouses, then you know how thing go, there is no margin they won't take advantage of to steal something like for example 8 items become 7 and one gets 'lost'.

Take into account the appalling sanitary conditions in many warehouses and you just want to stay away as much as possible.

XofisJuly 24, 2015 3:54 PM

Pressure cooker bombs are a bigger terrorism problem in India than the U.S., but harder to monitor in India because it's dominated by small corner shops.

AnonJuly 24, 2015 5:15 PM

Is this a security news!?

Well, amazon should use more humanoid robots/drones.
Amazon warehouse is a sweatjob, and amazon should not use people like
company slaves. I'm working at sweatjob myself, 6 days a week, 12+hours per day,
and I really hope robots take my work in the near future.
I don't want to continue this job, but I have no choice but to obey the order...

ianfJuly 24, 2015 5:31 PM

@MikeA

Wouldn't it be safer to have it delivered to empty homes of people you know work late?

Considering 3rd-world “delivery customs” (=finders-keepers) & the population density (people are swarming everywhere), not an option in India (article clearly stated the locality).

Had the perp been smart, he'd have carefully cut the shrink wrap using scalpel & gloves, replaced the tablet inside with a precut same-size/ same-weight iPlacebo, and then "resealed" the package with some glue. Chances are that whoever took delivery of so adulterated package later would not notice, unwrap it in the heat of the moment—thus placing the integrity of the shrink wrap into question, where exactly in the chain from Foxconn in China to the godown in India the "switch" occurred. And then NOT repeat it sooner than after a few months... if at all.

SorlenJuly 24, 2015 5:40 PM

@ianf

of course he would have to get these materials into the warehouse


@anon

the whole country and its culture are based around sweatshops. Not that Amazon warehouses in other countries have a better reputation. In Germany they bring in immigrants from Poland and Spain to work under unbelievable conditions (for a European country).

In India it's the norm having people working under such conditions. Actually they may find it a good job. That's how the IT sector got where it got after big companies discovered they could hire from India.

Clive RobinsonJuly 24, 2015 6:27 PM

@ Sorlen,

If you have ever worked with indian firms and warehouses, then you know how thing go, there is no margin they won't take advantage of to steal something...

Yup even "proffesional workers", a story to add to your collection.

It concerns sending postcards home from a vacation in India, and the lack of sufficient suspicion of post office counter workers.

Being mildly suspicious of the cost of postage compared to low level workers wages, it was decided to take the postcards to the post office and buy the stamps there and put them in the post there and then.

After queuing for a while we got to the counter and paid for the stamps that were put on by the counter worker and they put them in a pile. We were about to go when the person behind us in the que said loudly "Get him to frank them in front of you". He said something to the counter worker who very reluctantly hand franked the stamps. He then told us that some counter workers are known to take unfranked stamps off post and sell them again and pocket the money, apparently it's seen as "a perk of the job", as is putting on fake stamps...

On chatting further with the man, he told us some other eye opening stories, including if we got ill selecting doctors with care due to the supposed health benifits of chalk...

Apparently some of the medical proffession knowing you have a complaint that will clear up by it's self will insist you need medication that they just happen to have brought with them. Worse some also "doctor drugs" by making their own tablets with chalk, and other common substances and charging full price plus for them...

Then there are all the other tricks that get played on tourists which most people should know by now but for some reason don't.

That said, if you ever get the chance to go to that part of the world don't pass it up, like most places where this sort of things happen, it's "the few" that do these things, the majority are just happy to live life just like the rest of us, wishing for better but making do with what we've got.

ianfJuly 24, 2015 6:28 PM

@Sorlen
> of course he would have to get these materials into the warehouse

?What materials? A scalpel blade is the size of a fingernail; a tube of glue that of a cig butt. The shrink-wrapped iPad package already is in situ.

@anon

> amazon should use more ... drones

#fuggedaboutit. Warehouse-to-customer direct delivery drones are possible only as long as they are rare. As soon as the air around us would start filling with such buzzing, constantly irritating devices, they'd become socially acceptable targets for "target practice"… much more interesting to shoot down than clay pidgeons. Needn't be with bullets, arrows or crossbows (or BB sniper rifles) will do & I can well imagine Neigborhood Drone Pidgeon shooting competitions becoming a popular pastime.

Drone delivery has a future, but only in undeveloped/ bad road back country/ disaster areas (vaccine delivery, etc), but hardly over densely populated Western urban settlements.

KareemJuly 24, 2015 6:38 PM

fooc, of course it's a non-American that got noticed. It would be illegal for the USA to spy on Americans, right? :-)

ianfJuly 24, 2015 6:43 PM

@Sorlen
> of course he would have to get these materials into the warehouse

You mean my "precut same-size/ same-weight iPlacebo" to insert into the iPack? A bit of plastic weighted down with cumulatively smuggled-in washers, or similar metal bits and bobs to make up the weight of the iPad. Preferably without fingerprints, hence the need for (surgical) gloves.

HatfieldJuly 24, 2015 8:04 PM

Drones run risk of random ppl sniping airsoft at them for leisure. Especially when they invade airspaces in the backwoods. People stealing is a people problem so only more surveillance can help reduce them.

Slime Mold with MustardJuly 24, 2015 8:27 PM

WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE
I do not live in India - But Damn It - I do live in this tale!

@ MikeA You Have Been LISTED

@ Clive
RE: Chalk
Insist on the finest: Dover. No goshing about here: The Pakistani and Hungarian doctors gave my globe-trotting wife the same advice - "Stay in America". Perhaps the Mayo Clinic in Rochester is not available to you. If not, then the NHS must do. With all of its faults, its a damn sight better than the Hospital General in Concepcion.

We count on you around here, Clive.

rgaffJuly 24, 2015 8:41 PM

@ Kareem It's illegal to spy on Americans, yeah... unless.. it's part of an active "terrorist" investigation that just happens to include all Americans, then it's just fine. Don't you see? There's a big difference.

HatfieldJuly 24, 2015 8:42 PM

The best insurance is the one you never had to use. And there's nothing national about national health care.

sooth_sayerJuly 25, 2015 12:01 AM

Clive,

There was a chairman of the appropriations committee in US Congress who used to steal stamps, over years he stole a FEW MILLIONS worth -- he used to collect them from house post office to mail newsletters to his constituents and the sell them by union station.
He went to jail along with with some others of his kind till Billy Bubba the great leader for the free world who couldn't suffer a fellow criminal in jail, pardoned him in 1992 just as he was skipping town after 8 years at helm.
Did you ever hear that he collected $500MM for those ~300 pardons! and NEVER released the names of his "benefactors" for his library? now his better half is trying to do the 2fer and make the world a whole lot better by investing in cattle futures afresh .. the cattle is the public -- the future is hers .. and her daughter's who has to write 1 stroy a year for NBC for $850M .. the story doesn't have to be published .. I am sure Monika Lewinksy did more work for AMEX then the younger Ms. C will EVER do for anyone!

All this is of course is not theft -- it's done by noble, honest, god fearing and lovely upright people who never stole anything from anyone .. least of it from unsuspecting tourists..

Chalk in your tablets .. go ask Genentech and Robert Menendez(Senator NJ) another one of Dan Rostenkowski and Billy Bubba's gang who helped bilk Medicare for $200MM and got a happy ending in return every 3-4 weeks in a haitian paradise or in french riviera

In US 90% of MEDICARE is 100% FRAUD (Us Govt. admits 30-35% .. ) .. that's nearly 15% of US GDP ~ $200-$300B/YEAR
PURE FRAUD .. This one agency has more fraud than GDP of whole of India!

The list Mr. Roberts is long .. (everywhere) and I take umbrage of your comments and i must add that of course not all of them are cheats and thieves .. some of my best friends are Indians ..

I could tell you what do you with yourself .. but Mr. Shneier might delete the post to keep this blog clean -- though he will tolerate nonsense that you espouse -- but I give you full permission to go and do it to yourself.

AnuraJuly 25, 2015 3:01 AM

@sooth_sayer

In US 90% of MEDICARE is 100% FRAUD (Us Govt. admits 30-35% .. ) .. that's nearly 15% of US GDP ~ $200-$300B/YEAR PURE FRAUD .. This one agency has more fraud than GDP of whole of India!

You really really really need to check your numbers, and provide citations.

Total healthcare fraud, public and private, was estimated to be in the $82-$272 billion dollar range in 2012, or approximately 3%-10% of total healthcare spending, with $30-$98 billion of that from Medicare and Medicaid combined, or approximately 3%-10% of total government spending, and from that we can approximate that the fraud rate for private insurance is in 3%-10% range. This puts overall healthcare fraud at 0.5%-1.7% of GDP, and Medicare/Medicaid fraud at 0.2% and 0.6% of GDP, being that US GDP was $16,163.2 billion in 2012. India's GDP in 2012 was $1,831.7 billion, which is significantly higher than the fraud rate.


https://www.icsi.org/_asset/y74drr/eliminatingwaste-ushelathcare2012.pdf
http://bea.gov/national/xls/gdplev.xls
http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.CD

sooth_sayerJuly 25, 2015 5:14 PM

@Anura,

If one Doctor can scam Medicare for $200M in ~6 years (with ONE procedure) you can do the rest of the math!

My estimate is correct I have no "officially released" fraud calculation . .but WSJ had an article about 2 years back where they tracked 200 most compensated doctors and top half, if I recall ranged $100MM-$500MM; that's JUST individuals.

Just talk to anyone in geriatric care .. go see what happens in ER and in hospitals; go see what happens in inner cities. One Doctor in NYC presumably did about 100+ root canals a DAY for years ..years!

Do you know that Humana's 90%+ rev. comes from US Govt now ..

Put the picture together and you will come to similar conclusion .. no one is going to figure out this maze - money is being stolen in so many different ways that NOTHING can be computed with certainty- alas there will be no wikileaks possible here and I have to say where are the "snowdens of the yesteryear" -[ pun intended -- I dislike Mr. Snowden]


Species5618July 27, 2015 3:11 AM

Back in the early 90s, an tech at gateway 2000 in Ireland got busted to mailing his mates various computer part of the back off "no fault found customer" calls

Q3 TechnologiesJuly 27, 2015 4:26 AM

This is exactly why India is lacking behind in becoming an ecommerce hubspot for international markets. Processes should be streamlined accordingly in order to prevent such incidents.

Q3 Tech recently did an article on the Secrets of eCommerce. Read it here.

paulJuly 27, 2015 8:41 AM

When you do this as an individual, you're bound to stay small (and likely go to jail when caught). But if you do it by control fraud the winnings can be much larger. Let us not forget Miniscribe, where executives made their quarterly shipping targets by ordering employees to put bricks in the boxes and send them out the door. (Fraud discovered only when the executives had the poor sense to lay off some of the line employees loading bricks.)

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