News & Politics

Virginia Doctor Pleads Guilty to Audacious Amazon Return Fraud

Dermatologist Farhaad Riyaz ordered hundreds of thousands of dollars of goods, then returned cheaper items.

Photograph via iStock.

Farhaad Riyaz spent more than three years ordering expensive items from Amazon, then returning much less valuable items after he complained that they arrived late or didn’t match descriptions on the retailer’s website. Last month, he pleaded guilty to the fraud scheme.

Riyaz is a dermatologist who appeared on Washingtonian’s peer-voted Top Doctors list for 2019 (and was photographed at a Top Docs event in December of that year) and had residences in Manassas and McLean, in DC, and in two other states while he ran his grift from March 2017 to June 2020, the feds write in an “information” that Riyaz pleaded to in December.

Among his gains, they say, was a Sony 4K laser home theater video projector that he bought for $37,097.88. He claimed it arrived too late and returned a different Sony projector that retails for around $2,000. He ordered several deluxe Toto toilets with integrated bidet seats for $17,848.32 and asked for refunds, saying they were defective or didn’t arrive complete. He bought an American-made Fender Rarities Flame Maple Top Stratocaster—which Fender’s website boasts has a DoubleTap humbucking pickup at the bridge—for $2,649.99 and returned a far less expensive Indonesian-made Strat sold under Fender’s budget Squier label that retails for a few hundred dollars. He repeated the six-string scam with “other high-end Fender, Gibson and Martin electrical and acoustic guitars,” the information says.

Investigators found the toilets and video projector at Riyaz’s house in McLean. In all, his scheme netted him more than $300,000 worth of goods. Amazon’s fraud detection unit “provided valuable assistance in the investigation of the case,” a Justice Department press release says.

The doctor pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and faces up to 20 years in federal prison, though such a sentence would be unusual. He agreed to pay Amazon $312,964.38 in restitution and to forfeit the goods. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on March 22.

This article has been edited since its original posting.

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Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.