How Two Former Employees Scammed Amazon Out Of $10 Million

Two former Amazon employees pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud against the company.
Jules Roscoe
New York, US
amazon logo on amazon warehouse

Kayricka Wortham was about as high up the Amazon warehouse food chain as you can get. 

As an operations manager at an Amazon facility in Smyrna, Georgia, Wortham, 31, was responsible for supervising workers, managing productivity, and making sure all the day's operations ran smoothly. She could oversee how orders got sorted and packed into the familiar smirking box, and coordinate with delivery service partners, or DSPs—third-party delivery companies that Amazon contracts to drive for it. Everything in the warehouse could pass through her hands. 


Wortham's position—a lucrative one, at that, which can pay up to $100,000 a year—carries a lot of authority. But the United States Attorney’s Office alleges that Wortham abused that authority, and that in fact she, in combination with two other defendants, conspired to defraud Amazon of over $10 million—charges to which she and one of her co-defendants pleaded guilty in November.

“Defendant Wortham used her position as an Operations Manager at Amazon to steal more than $9 million from the company,” reads the charging document filed in the Northern District Court of Georgia. “Working with co-conspirators, Defendant Wortham created fake vendors and submitted more than $10 million in fictitious invoices for those vendors, causing Amazon to transfer approximately $9.4 million to bank accounts controlled by her and her co-conspirators.” 

There are two ways to sell things on Amazon—you can either become a seller or a vendor. Sellers are third-party businesses that simply use Amazon’s mammoth product search engine to reach a wider audience, and anybody can do it. You just have to provide your legal documentation, your business registration, and a credit card. 

Vendors, on the other hand, are considered first-party businesses. They are approved by Amazon to enter into partnerships with the company in which Amazon buys their product in bulk, pays them, then resells that product on the website for its own retail price. This system requires you to be approved by the company, since it introduces some form of risk—if your product doesn’t sell, Amazon won’t make back the money it spent to buy from you. Vendors’ only contact in the process is Amazon, and all they do is ship products and file invoices for them. It’s this system that Wortham and her co-conspirators exploited, prosecutors claim. 


“As part of the scheme, Defendant Wortham provided fake vendor information to unknowing subordinates and asked them to input the information into Amazon’s vendor system,” the charge reads. “Once the information was entered, Defendant Wortham approved the fake vendors, thereby enabling those vendor accounts to submit invoices for payment for goods and services purportedly provided by the vendors to Amazon. Defendant Wortham established the fake vendor accounts so that they were associated with bank accounts controlled by her and co-conspirators.” 

Wortham’s co-conspirators, according to prosecutors, were her partner Brittany Hudson, 37, who owned one of the DSPs that contracted with the warehouse, and Demetrius Hines, 35, a loss prevention lead at multiple warehouses around Georgia, including Wortham’s. Hines was responsible for “preventing loss and protecting people, products, and information at Amazon,” the document reads.

Beginning around January of 2022, Wortham would apply to become a vendor, approve her own or her co-conspirators’ applications from within—which she would have had the authority to do in her position, the document states—and then approve invoices paid to her vendor bank account from within, the prosecutors allege. “These invoices falsely represented that the fake vendors had provided goods and services to Amazon, when in fact they had not,” the document reads. (It’s not entirely clear why a warehouse manager would be in a position to approve vendor applications, especially given the notoriously centralized nature of Amazon operations. Multiple Amazon spokespeople declined to comment on this process.) 


When you apply to sell on Amazon, either as a seller or as a vendor, you have to provide your contact information, which is self-explanatory—if something goes wrong with your product, the company wants to be able to tell you about it. Additionally, if every new selling account is linked to a real person, there’s a better chance it’s legitimate.

Wortham found a way to circumvent this, too, according to the charging document. “In furtherance of the conspiracy, Defendant Wortham recruited other individuals to act as purported vendor contacts for the fake vendors entered into Amazon’s system.” She would pay them for their assistance by directing some of the payments to their accounts, the document states. 

Hudson, the owner of a DSP called Legend Express LLC, which partnered with Wortham’s warehouse, also submitted fake vendor accounts, the document alleges. Hines, the loss prevention lead, “provided information to Defendant Wortham to create additional fake vendor accounts.” 

When Wortham left Amazon in March, two months after she had allegedly begun the conspiracy, she continued to submit invoices for the fake vendors she and the others had created, the document states. An unnamed “Conspirator 2,” a second operations manager at the warehouse, approved the invoices until June. The three were indicted shortly after in September, following an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service.


An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment, saying that because the case was a pending criminal matter, any and all questions should be directed to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The Office declined to comment on the case. 

Wortham and Hines pleaded guilty in late November. Wortham, in her plea agreement, agreed to personally forfeit $9,469,731.45 to the U.S. government, the amount she prosecutors say she  stole from Amazon—which proudly made $514 billion that same year

The plea deal continues to say that the government will seize a total of $2,792,607.82 from her various bank accounts, her Georgia real estate property worth almost $1 million, a Lamborghini, a Dodge Durango, a Tesla Model X, a Porsche, and a Kawasaki motorcycle, all of which she allegedly purchased with the illegal proceeds. Wortham is scheduled to be sentenced on May 2—the maximum prison term is 20 years. Hines is scheduled to be sentenced in April. Hudson has pleaded not guilty to the wire fraud charge, and awaits trial. 

After she was indicted, Wortham was released on bail until her sentencing. On January 26, however, the prosecutors filed to revoke her bail, because she had violated its terms by “committing new crimes.” She and Hudson were arrested.

“The government learned two days ago that Wortham recently lied to a franchising company, claiming that her criminal case had been nolle prosecuted and dismissed, in an attempt to obtain a franchise for a hookah lounge in Midtown Atlanta,” the filing reads. The legal term “nolle prosequi” is Latin for “do not follow through,” and it means that a case has been dropped—the prosecutors argued that Wortham falsely stated her case was dropped because the court didn’t have enough evidence, and forged court documents to prove it. 

“Wortham went so far as to email the company a fake document purporting to be from this Court, including the signature of Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr., and a purported nolle prosequi dismissal document, including the signature of AUSA Norman L. Barnett,” who is prosecuting the case, the filing continues.

The filing describes that Wortham and Hudson allegedly tried to close a deal on opening a Cru Lounge hookah franchise, and when the Cru team asked them about a press release from December detailing the Amazon fraud, the two said that Demetrius Hines was solely responsible. 

Wortham also sent the Cru team an email saying that the government “attempted to take me down for something I didn’t do,” and that it had “tried to force me to sign an NDA in exchange for my assets back” when “they thought I would go public with the information,” but that she “refused to sign their NDA,” the filing reports. Attached to this email was a fake court document with Judge Batten’s signature, either forged or copied, the filing states. 

Additionally, Hudson allegedly falsified the pair’s bank statements in order to open the franchise. “The Secret Service has confirmed that the two bank statements for Hudson are doctored,” the filing states. “The PenFed Credit Union statement was altered to change the balance from $7,015.13 to $307,015.13, and the Wells Fargo statement was altered to change the balance from $3,499.47 to $203,499.47.” 

None of the defendants responded to requests for comment.