09/21/2021, 13.29
BANGLADESH
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Police raid against e-commerce scams after consumer complaints

by Sumon Corraya

The police brought down an online house of cards. Thousands of people did not receive the products they bought. One retailer lost his business and more.

 

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Over a year and a half marked by the pandemic, online commerce and internet transactions have increased considerably.

A rapidly expanding sector worth billions of dollars a year has provided millions of jobs to even in Bangladesh.

In the South Asian country, the opportunity to get rich via e-commerce has enticed many investors who came to trust online platforms like Evaly, Dhamaka Shopping, e-orange and Alesha Mart.

However, Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies have recently brought down one such operator, described by the local press as an online house of cards.

On 10 September, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested CEOs and owners of e-commerce companies, including the president and founder of Evaly, Mohammad Rassel and his wife Shamima Nasrin.

The two have been accused of fraud by a number of buyers, online merchants and debtors.

Local media report that more than 5,000 complaints were filed against Evaly with the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection.

Most of these complaints came from customers who say they did not receive the products they ordered and paid for.

Mohammad Salauddin is a Dhaka-based retailer who invested two million taka (US$ 23,500) in five e-commerce companies.

He bought from online wholesalers for half the price and resold the same product for double. But he never received the ordered products and already two owners of the companies in which he invested have been arrested by the law enforcement.

“Now I am fully destitute. For two months I have not been able to sleep at night. I don’t know what I will do,” he said. Now he and his family are broke.

According to a report by local media, 26 e-commerce companies absconded with 2.1 billion taka (US$ 24,7 million) over a few months at the expense of customers and retailers.

Competitive prices and huge discounts offered on products by Evaly and other platforms turned out to be scams.

“At the beginning my e-commerce business was good, but now I lost everything. I don’t have any faith in e-commerce now,” said Salauddin. “Now I don’t know what I will do for my family.”

Like Mohammad Salauddin, others who used these platforms are waiting for developments.

With the freezing of the owners' assets, the risk is that they might lose all their investments and purchases made in the past months.

Meanwhile, stern action will be taken against e-commerce firms like Evaly and e-orange and other e-commerce companies, said AKM Hafiz Akhter, additional commissioner (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP).

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