A former Amazon manager described by prosecutors as the “mastermind” behind a nearly $10 million scheme to steal money from the online megaretailer using fake invoices has been sentenced to 16 years behind bars in federal prison.
Amazon Warehouse ops manager Kayricka Wortham – also known as “Kayricka Dupree” and “Kayricka Young” – pleaded guilty to fraud charges in the US on November 30, and allegedly committed more crimes while on release after posting bond.
According to a judgment [PDF] filed today, Wortham must also pay restitution to Amazon in the amount of $9,469,731.45. In addition, the ring leader forfeited more than $2.7 million in fraudulent proceeds from multiple bank accounts; a home in Smyrna, Georgia (which she shared with girlfriend and co-conspirator Brittany Hudson); and vehicles (including a a 2019 Lamborghini Urus, a 2022 Tesla Model X, a 2018 Porsche Panamera, and a Kawasaki ZX636 motorcycle) purchased with the dirty money.
“The defendant abused her position of trust at Amazon to steal nearly $10 million from the company based on a brazen fraud scheme involving fake vendors and fictitious invoices,” US Attorney Ryan Buchanan said in a statement.
“She then committed new crimes while on bond, even creating a fake dismissal document purporting to be from the court and that included the forged signature of the Chief US District Judge, all for the purpose of misleading a franchising company about the status of her criminal charges,” he added.
Including Wortham, seven people have now been charged for their roles in the elaborate fraud scheme.
How it started…
Wortham, 32, worked as an operations manager at the Amazon Warehouse in Smyrna, Georgia from August 2020 to March 2022. During this time, according to court documents [PDF], she made up fake vendors, asked her unwitting subordinates to enter these non-existent entities’ data into Amazon’s vendor payment system, and then submitted more than $10 million in invoices. Amazon transferred some $9.4 million to pay its “vendor bills.”
One of the co-conspirators was Brittany Hudson, who was in a relationship with Wortham and owned a business called Legend Express that contracted with Amazon to deliver packages to customers.
Wortham also recruited Demetrius Hines, who worked in loss prevention at Amazon, and Laquettia Blanchard, a senior human resources assistant at the retail giant, to help facilitate the scheme. Both of these co-conspirators provided names and Social Security numbers to Wortham that were used to create fake vendor accounts.
To come up with these names and SSNs, Blanchard used names of relatives and associates. Meanwhile, Hines provided stolen personal identifying information he bought from JaQuan Frazier, who allegedly purchased the PII from Darrel Burgo.
If you are related to, or have had anything to do with, any of these shady individuals, we’d highly suggest checking your credit as soon as possible.
But wait, there’s more
Wortham was released on a $5,000 bond in September 2022, on the condition that she not violate any other laws while on release. That proved too much to ask, and on February 1, she was back in court where a judge revoked her bond due to allegations of fresh criminal conduct.
While on bond, Wortham and Hudson were working with CRU Franchising Company to open a hookah lounge in Atlanta. CRU discovered and asked about the Amazon fraud charges, and Wortham and Hudson allegedly lied, telling the biz that the charges had been dismissed.
Then the two also allegedly emailed fake court documents to CRU to prove their false claims. The fraudulent docs included forged signatures of Chief US District Judge Timothy Batten, Sr, and forged seals and signatures of the clerk of the court.
Wortham has been indicted for defrauding CRU and forging the signature of a federal judge and seal of the court, but those charges remain pending.
As for the other co-conspirators: Hudson, James and Burgo have been indicted on various charges. Hines, Blanchard and Frazier have all pleaded guilty to the various charges they faced and are awaiting sentencing. ®