Portage Man Arrested On Federal Indictment Charging Fraud And Theft From Amazon’s Textbook Rental Program

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Geoffrey Mark Hays Talsma Faces Mail Fraud and Other Federal Charges

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced today that Geoffrey Mark Hays Talsma, 36, of Portage, Michigan, was arrested today on a felony indictment filed in the United States District Court in Grand Rapids, Michigan, charging mail and wire fraud, interstate transportation of stolen property, aggravated identity theft and making false statements to the FBI.

According to the indictment, from January 2016 to March 2021, Talsma rented thousands of textbooks from Amazon’s Textbook Rental Program with no intention of returning the textbooks by the specified return date or paying the established buyout price for the textbooks. Instead, Talsma allegedly sold the textbooks to local textbook businesses and through the internet. Talsma defrauded Amazon and the Textbook Rental Program by repeatedly creating new Amazon accounts and using variations of other data to avoid detection, the indictment claims. On many occasions, according to the charges, Talsma additionally defrauded Amazon by seeking and obtaining a credit to his account by claiming that he did not receive the textbooks or that he received other items he could not return. Also named in the indictment were Gregory Mark Gleesing (age 43) and Lovedeep Singh Dhanoa (age 25), both from Portage, Michigan, and Paul Steven Larson (age 32) of Kalamazoo, Michigan.

If convicted, Talsma faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years for each of the mail and wire fraud offenses; a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years for interstate transportation of stolen property; and a maximum term of imprisonment of 5 years for making false statements to the FBI. Additionally, if convicted of the aggravated identity theft charges, Talsma will serve a maximum term of imprisonment of four years consecutive to any sentence imposed for the other criminal offenses. Restitution and forfeiture of certain assets obtained with the proceeds of the scheme may also be ordered as a result of a conviction.

The offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Kalamazoo, and the United States Postal Inspection Service, Grand Rapids, are handling the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Ronald M. Stella is prosecuting the case.

The charges in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

Statement from Amazon:
Only through close collaboration with law enforcement is the prosecution of fraud like this possible. We are grateful to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Postal Inspector of Michigan in their thorough pursuit of this case. Fraud undermines the trust of our customers, and jeopardizes the value and selection that entrepreneurs, authors, and publishers provide to millions of customers through our stores. We will continue to pursue all available measures to protect our customers and hold bad actors accountable.