A crackdown against errant e-commerce platforms began in full swing yesterday, with money laundering cases filed and arrests made.
Police arrested three officials of two e-commerce platforms – Qcoom and SPC World – in the capital following allegations of money laundering and defrauding customers.
Meanwhile, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) filed another money laundering case – this time against e-commerce platform Eorange, bringing the total number of such cases filed against e-commerce sites to five.
Earlier yesterday, the Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) arrested e-commerce platform Qcoom owner Ripon Mia from Dhanmondi, while the CID arrested SPC World Managing Director Al-Amin and his wife Sharmin Akter, also director of the firm, from the capital's Bailey Road.
Qcoom Chief Executive Officer Ripon was arrested in the case filed with Paltan police station under the Digital Security Act and sections 406, 420 and 506 of the Penal Code over allegations of fraudulence.
Al-Amin and Sharmin were arrested in a case filed over laundering Tk1.17 crore.
The CID filed a case against Eorange for laundering Tk232 crore, said Special Police Superintendent Humayun Kabir of the agency's Financial Crime Unit.
The officer told The Business Standard that they had filed five money laundering cases against five e-commerce platforms – Eorange, Dhamaka, Shopan Products, SPC World Express, and 24tkt Ltd.
He said they had initiated money laundering inquiries against around 20 e-commerce platforms and requested the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit to investigate bank transactions of those firms.
A Tk232 crore money laundering case against Eorange, a Tk117 crore case against Dhamaka, Tk1.17 crore case against SPC World Express, Tk4.5 crore against 24tkt and a Tk1.48 crores money-laundering case against Shopan Products were filed, he added.
Money-laundering inquiries against 21 more e-commerce and online platforms are underway, said Humayun.
Additional Deputy Inspector General of CID Cyber Police Centre Kamrul Ahsan told TBS that they had been investigating 24 cases filed over incidents of these e-commerce firms cheating customers.
To curb such fraudulence, the CID prepared a list of 26 e-commerce platforms -- Evaly, ringID, E-orange, Dhamaka Shopping, Shirajganj Shop, Alesha Mart, Adyan Mart, Dalal Plus, SPC World Express, Aladin's Prodip, Nirapodshop.com, 24tkt, Nirapod Shop, Shahoj Life & lively, e-Shop India and BD Like.
During a briefing on the arrest of Qcoom owner Ripon Mia, DMP Additional Commissioner for DB AKM Hafiz Akter said that Qcoom had liabilities of around Tk250 crore to customers, but they had Tk357 crore stuck in payment gateway system.
Hafiz said that the firm followed aggressive marketing strategies, mostly for motorcycles, adding the platform offered huge discounts on bike sales.
They were offering motorcycles with market prices of Tk 1.67 lakh for a reduced price of Tk1.20 lakh.
Many people had paid money in advance, but did not receive their vehicles.
Unable to provide the motorcycles, Qcoom started to give cheques of Tk1.30 lakh against each motorbike payment.
Realising that Qcoom was not providing products to customers, payment gateway Foster froze the money, said Hafiz.
Meanwhile, CID's Humayun said that SPC World Managing Director Al Amin was a senior-level team leader and instructor of MLM firm Destiny.
Earlier in November 2020, he was arrested by the DB for embezzling Tk268 crore.
Humayun said that SPC World had a customer base of around one crore and had done transactions of Tk22 crore in recent months.
SS Humayun said that similar to other e-commerce platforms, SPC World had been offering 50-150 percent discounts on products, mostly electronics and motorcycles.
The firm was providing products at the promised timeframe during the early stage of their business, but as its customers' numbers grew, the firm began to defraud people, said the police officer.
Al-Amin is accused in four cases of money-laundering, breaching the digital security act, MLM Control Act and for cheating customers.