A Virginia woman pled guilty to purchasing fake designer bags online, returning the bootleg bags to stores for refunds and selling the originals on Instagram.com for over $2,000 each.
Police say Praepitcha Smatsorabudh, 41, of Arlington, ran an online scam that netted her $1 million in profit from late 2014 to the end of 2015.
Her elaborate scheme involved purchasing fake designer handbags from Chinese suppliers online, then returning the bags to the same stores where she had earlier bought the original designer bags.
She profited by selling the original bags on Instagram and eBay for over $2,000 each.
Smatsorabudh, who is originally from Thailand, claimed to be living in Virginia on a student Visa at the time of her arrest.
She allegedly cheated department stores out of $400,000 in fraudulent refunds.
Smatsorabudh sold hundreds of Gucci, Fendi, YSL and Burberry handbags as "guaranteed authentic" on Instagram and eBay.com.
In an email to one of her suppliers in September 2014, Smatsorabudh allegedly wrote: "The best fake bag I’ve ever seen! Can you send me more from this factory. They make bag IMPaCABLE [sic]!!!!"
Smatsorabudh's fraudulent scheme involved 60 stores across 12 states. The con artist avoided high end boutiques, and instead returned the fake bags to department stores such as T.J. Maxx, where sales people weren't savvy enough to spot the fakes.
At one point she was T.J. Maxx's biggest online customer in the world, according to the Washington Post.
T.J. Maxx discovered the deception and identified 226 fake bags she returned for refunds. Neiman Marcus reported 10 more fake handbags.
Smatsorabudh was arrested after an undercover agent bought a designer handbag from her online.
The feds raided Smatsorabudh's Arlington home and recovered 572 bags -- some of which were fake, according to court documents.
"What I did was so wrong. I deserve to be in jail," she said Wednesday at her sentencing hearing.
She was sentenced to 30 months in prison and 3 years supervised probation upon her release. She was also ordered to pay $403,250.81 in restitution.