Gambling, desire for better life blamed. Lexington man sentenced in $492,000 gift card theft

A Lexington man was sentenced Monday to 18 months in federal prison for stealing $492,000 worth of Amazon gift cards from his employer.

Thomas Scott Taylor, 38, has already paid back $202,000 of the amount he stole from an online survey company called IntelliSurvey.

Taylor said in court that he had betrayed the trust of his employer “and for that I’m sorry.” He also apologized to his family and to his parents.

“They did a much better job than to sit here and watch their son being sentenced to prison,” Taylor said.

U.S. District Judge Joseph M. Hood asked Taylor, “Why’d you jump the rails?”

“Your honor, I saw an opportunity to make my life better,” Taylor said. He also mentioned that he had “gambling problems,” particularly with daily fantasy sports.

Pat Nash, Taylor’s attorney, had sought a sentence of no jail time and had proposed a combination of sentencing alternatives to comply with federal guidelines. Nash said IntelliSurvey executives were agreeable to a more lenient sentence, so long as Taylor makes a good-faith effort to pay back the money.

But Hood said “We’ve got to make sure there’s not another Thomas Scott Taylor.”

Hood recommended that Taylor serve his sentence at a low-security federal correctional institution in Ashland.

As part of the plea agreement, Taylor agreed to sell or liquidate his Von List Way home, retirement and mutual fund accounts, checking and savings accounts, and plasma TV.

Taylor pleaded guilty in March to one count of “exceeding authorized access of a protected computer.”

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 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 rewards.

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

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

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

At the time of his termination from IntelliSurvey, Taylor made $10,666.67 per month, according to court records.

Since he entered a plea agreement in March, Taylor was charged with a misdemeanor domestic assault and driving under the influence. Both charges are pending in Fayette District Court.