Crime

Lexington man stole $492,000 in gift cards. Now, he must pay it back.

This house on Von List Way in Lexington is among the property that Thomas Scott Taylor has agreed to sell or liquidate to pay $492,689.59 in restitution as part of a federal plea deal.
This house on Von List Way in Lexington is among the property that Thomas Scott Taylor has agreed to sell or liquidate to pay $492,689.59 in restitution as part of a federal plea deal.

A Lexington man must pay back nearly $500,000 in Amazon gift cards he stole from an online survey company as part of a plea agreement filed in federal court.

Thomas Scott Taylor agreed to sell or liquidate his Von List Way home, retirement and mutual fund accounts, checking and savings accounts and plasma TV as part of the plea agreement entered Monday in U.S. District Court. The Lexington house alone has an assessed value of $465,000, according to the county property valuation administrator.

Taylor also faces up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

Taylor pleaded guilty to one count of “exceeding authorized access of a protected computer.” His defense attorney, Pat Nash, had no comment Tuesday on the plea agreement.

According to court documents, Taylor had been employed since 2008 by IntelliSurvey, a company that does online surveys for various clients. IntelliSurvey rewards people who complete surveys with Amazon.com gift card codes that can be redeemed to buy items through Amazon.

The federal charge said Taylor had access to a protected database of already-purchased gift card codes and knew that many people never redeemed those Amazon.com rewards.

Taylor identified the codes of unclaimed gift cards and “used those codes to add credit to his personal Amazon account,” the plea agreement says.

Between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 29, 2016, Taylor used IntelliSurvey’s gift card codes to obtain $91,341.96 worth of Amazon.com credit, according to the charge to which he pleaded guilty.

Furthermore, between Dec. 16, 2011, and Aug. 8, 2017, Taylor stole $492,689.59 from IntelliSurvey’s protected database, the plea agreement says.

“He used this money to make 3,300 orders at Amazon.com, purchasing items that are easily resalable or for personal use,” the plea agreement says.

The court documents don’t say how the theft was discovered.

Federal prosecutors charged Taylor through a document called an information, rather than going through a grand jury to seek an indictment.

The use of an information — and the fact Taylor pleaded guilty on the same day it was filed — indicates he has agreed to cooperate with authorities in the investigation.

As part of the agreement to pay back IntelliSurvey, Taylor agrees to liquidate a retirement account, an Edward Jones mutual fund account, a Chase checking and savings account, a 64-inch Samsung plasma smart TV and an Epson home cinema wireless projector.

Taylor, a University of Kentucky graduate, has started another research firm, Taylor Made Research, since leaving Intellisurvey, where he was a senior director, according to his LinkedIn account.

U.S. District Judge Joseph M. Hood is scheduled to sentence Taylor on June 25 in Lexington. Taylor is free pending that sentencing date.

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