The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police has cracked down on 26 companies that have swindled thousands of crores of taka from customers in the name of selling products, online investments and e-loans on e-commerce platforms and social media in the last few years.
The CID already arrested RingID Director Saiful Islam on Friday, SPC World Express CEO and Chairman Al-Amin Pradhan, and Farhana Afroz Ani, a director of NirapadaShop.com on Sunday.
Additional Special Superintendent of Police (Media) Azad Rahman told The Business Standard (TBS) that SPC World chairman and his wife Sharmin Akhter – also director of the company – have been arrested in a money laundering case, while the director of NirapadaShop.com has been arrested over embezzlement.
CID Cyber Police Centre Additional Deputy Inspector General Kamrul Ahsan told TBS they were conducting a shadow investigation into the incidents of deception with customers by e-commerce companies. There are complaints against several e-commerce sites that they are using merchant accounts in fake forms, which they cannot do under any circumstance.
A high official of CID told TBS that already several high-command meetings took place regarding these e-commerce and online scams. "CID is finally going to take stern action and drives will be conducted in the next few days against the fraudulence complaints," he added.
The suspected e-commerce sites, eLoan and gaming app are Evaly, ringID, Eorange, Dhamaka Shopping, Shirajganj Shop, Alesha Mart, Adivan Mart, Dalal Plus, SPC World Express, Qcoom, Aladin's Prodip, Boom Boom, Priyoshop, 24tkt.Ltd, Needs.com, Nirapod Shop, Play & Win, Daraz, Tiktiki, Shop Up e-loans, Uthao Cash, RapidCash- Quick Online eLoans App, Shahoj Life & lively, e-Shop India and BD Like.
SPC World Express
The CID on 26 August filed a case against e-commerce platform SPC World Express with the Kalabagan Police Station for laundering over Tk1.17 crore.
SPC World's Al Amin, Sharmin and its Deputy Managing Director Md Ishaq were accused in the case.
They were conducting unauthorised multi-level marketing (MLM) business in the name of e-commerce, according to the case statement.
They lured common people to send money through mobile banking and bank accounts for superfluous commissions using a mobile app called SPC World Express, and embezzled the money, said the specialised investigation wing of police.
Six bank accounts were used for transactions between July to September last year, CID found in its preliminary investigations. In total, Tk22.5 crore was deposited in the bank accounts, while Tk4.7 crore was withdrawn.
The money was embezzled by Al Amin with the help of Sharmin and Ishaq. The SPC World chairman later bought three cars worth Tk82.50 lakh under his name. In addition, Tk35 lakh was embezzled by transferring from a City Bank account to another account under Sharmin's name.
CID's initial investigation also found that the accused conducted the MLM business with the assistance of several other unknown people.
They used multiple strategies to tempt common people, including offering to refer and generate bonuses for opening new accounts on the SPC World app. They also misled people by offering tours abroad, laptops, motorcycles, cars, flats, and a share of the company profit.
Last year, the Detective Branch (DB) of the police arrested six people of the company in connection with MLM business and fraud.
DB Additional Commissioner AKM Hafiz Akhter, at the time, told the media that SPC had been able to add 22.25 lakh people in 11 months to their business. By then, they had already embezzled Tk268 crore.
Then the police started the investigation. Six people, including Al Amin, were then sent to jail by the court. But after two months, he was released on bail and resumed SPC activities.
Former national cricket team captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza was made a goodwill ambassador by the company to speed up its activities. Initially, he promoted the company to the youth but cancelled the agreement after less than two months saying that he was misinformed about the business of the company.
CID's Organised Crime (Financial Crime) Special Superintendent of Police Humayun Kabir told TBS, "We are looking into the matter in detail. Initially, we have received information about the smuggling of Tk1.17 crore. The amount will likely be higher because they have made a lot of bank transactions.
Earlier on 12 July, DB's Cyber and Special Crime Division arrested Shahriar Khan, a director of Nirapada.com. The CID has received allegations of fraud against the company in the name of selling products at half the price.
DB Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Shariful Islam said, "Shahriar Khan delivered some products to some customers. Then he used those product reviews to cheat others.