Many of you might have heard of it as a social network platform that live streams different sports and sponsors programmes of many TV channels.
Maybe, many others have found it a means of earning by taking a membership, Silver at Tk12,000 or Gold at Tk22,000, to this platform and are working as a "referee" to tag new clients to get commission.
An apparent money-making scheme, identical to the pyramid structure of a typical multi-level marketing company, might eventually leave them with no exit route in case it collapses.
It offers earning opportunities probably in the simplest way possible - making money is just for watching commercials.
The users can earn Tk250 to Tk500 per day just by watching advertisements, an economic model, although not clearly explained, - it is well enough for ringID to prowl on several lakhs of students or youths, who are waiting for jobs.
The brains behind the venture are Ayrin Islam and her husband Shariful Islam, chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director respectively at ringID, a Bangladeshi couple now residing in Montreal of Quebec, Canada.
The announced goal of the duo, once detained in Bangladesh overrunning an illegal international call business without paying revenue to the government, is "to create jobs for unemployed youths".
But investors have already started airing worries, prompting law enforcers to initiate a probe into suspected money laundering through ringID, but its local executive denies any wrongdoing.
How it works
ringID, which follows a typical MLM model but calls itself a "community business", multiplies the number of its members, offering them Tk1,500 to Tk1,700 for adding a new member.
They give money to students for viewing and sharing adverts, adding new members to ringID, selling its products and coin transactions.
Lured by hefty earning offers, existing members assemble their family members, friends and acquaintances on ringID platform.
Under the brand promoter of community jobs, ringID now offers two types of memberships – Silver and Gold.
For a Silver category membership, ringID charges Tk12,000 and gives an option to earn Tk250 per day by watching 50+ advertisements. For a gold membership, it takes Tk22,000 and gives an option to earn Tk500 each day by watching 100+ ads.
Through this system, a Silver member can earn Tk7,500 a month and a Gold member earns Tk15,000, excluding the Internet cost, Mustafijur Rahman, a ringID agent in Sylhet, told The Business Standard on Sunday.
The transaction happens through mobile financial services, such as bKash, Nagad, Rocket and SureCash etc, and a mobile number is a major tool of the business.
Apart from earning through watching and sharing ads, ringID also offers earnings for the existing members by adding new clients to the platform - for this, the company gives Tk1,500-Tk1,700 per new member inclusion to old members who work as referees.
Transactions also happen through ringID's own agents across the country.
Sources said the platform now has around 600 agents of three types - Silver, Gold and Diamond.
For Silver category agents, ringID charges Tk1 lakh, while the fee is Tk2 lakh and Tk5 lakh for Gold and Diamond agentship respectively.
In addition, the company also has a digital coin transaction business in the ringID application.
The value of each coin is Tk86. Members can convert coins to Taka and can cash out through MFS providers.
Pandemic paved new way for ringID
ringID, a social networking platform designed and developed by Ring Inc. and located in Montreal, Quebec in Canada, was incorporated in 2016.
From the incorporation, ringID was known as a platform that offers live broadcasting, voice and video calls, TV channels, news portals, instant messaging, stickers, media cloud, newsfeed, secret chat, multimedia sharing, and many more.
But from last year, it has started targeting unemployed college and university students who remained idle owing to the pandemic-led closure of educational institutions.
With attractive Facebook advertisements of stay-at-home earnings by taking a shortcut on offer, ringID started to lure students into investing money on its digital platform with good returns per day.
Through its community jobs, the platform started the money-making business across the country.
Investors start worrying
As of now, six lakh people, including college and university students, have invested their parents' savings in ringID, in the hope of earning money through a shortcut.
But, most of them are allegedly facing problems in making money only a few weeks into investments, as ringID stops allowing them to watch advertisements and cash out their earnings when it reaches the amount equal to their initial investments.
Investors now fear that ringID is going to be another financial scam soon like Donencer, a money-making platform that emerged a few years back and fled after having amassed huge amounts of investors' money.
They are worried about ringID's very existence.
Some members alleged that when their earnings reached their initial investments, ringID started to face problems in earning money and cashing out the amounts they have in their balances.
Md Asadul Shekh, a ringID member, said he now cannot cash out as agents have denied doing so.
Mohammad Reajul Islam from Kurigram now in big confusion over the existance of the compnay with some irregularities surfacing in. In a Facebook post on 2 September, he posted a status, seeking to know whether it is legal or illegal.
Bijoy Ahmed Taskin, an investor who paid Tk12000 to become a silver member, posted a status on Facebook on 19 September, stating that he had been denied cashing out money for a few days.
They sought the intervention of the law enforcement agencies and media outlets to look into the ringID's business model.
While economists and financial intelligence authorities say this is a form of fraud as it pays profits to earlier investors with funds from new investors.
Dr Mirza Azizul Islam, economist and former adviser to the caretaker government, opined that sometimes investors in such companies become victims of fraud.
"I think law enforcement agencies should look into these companies' activities as a precaution to avoid the emergence of any unwanted situation like what has recently happened in the e-commerce sector," he said.
Law enforcement agencies suspect money laundering through ringID as the platform is being operated from abroad and they have kept the platform under observation.
Meanwhile, ringID said there is no way of laundering money as it is a local company registered with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms.
"Our community business through sharing and earning is neither a Ponzi scheme nor a MLM business. We are doing our business by complying with all local laws and rules," said Zulhaj Zubair, head of External Affairs at ringID BD Ltd.
Although the network's top brasses are learnt to have been living in Montreal, Zulhaj Zubair said ringID's CEO and MD are not Canadian citizens.
When asked about ringID, Commander Khandakar Al Moin, director (law and Media) at Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) told The Business Standard that RAB alway observas fraudulence and cheating in the name of MLM business on online platforms.
"We will take action against ringID after getting proof," he said.
Meanwhile, a Financial Crime Unit officer at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) told TBS that they suspect money laundering by ringID as the platform is being operated from abroad.
"We have kept the platform under observation. We will file a case against them after getting strong and clear evidence," he said.
What track record shows
On 28 December 2016, the CID arrested Ayrin Islam and her husband Shariful Islam and sent them to jail, following a case filed by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.
Apart from ringID, the couple also owns Cloud Tel Limited, an Interconnection Exchange (ICX) operator, and Vision Tel Limited, an International Gateway (IGW) operator. Both work with international and domestic voice calls.
Allegations were raised against them that they ran international calling business through the above companies, but did not pay yearly licence fees, profit share and late fees amounting to over Tk240 crore to the BTRC.
According to the BTRC guidelines, an IGW licensee is obliged to share 51.75% of their annual revenue and an ICX licensee is bound to share 50% of its revenue with the regulatory commission.
But, Ayrin and Shariful did not deposit the money to the BTRC.
At that time, New Nation and Independent, two daily newspapers, reported that the authorities concerned had also seized their Bangladesh passports. But a few months later, both of them secured bail from the High Court. After that Ayrin Islam, CEO of ringID, fled the country using a Canadian passport.
Later, Shariful Isalm, managing director of ringID, also ran away from the country to reside in Canada.
At present, BTRC receivable from this couple is Tk183 crore, said sources at the BTRC.
Of the amount, Vision Tel Ltd owes Tk150 crore and Cloud Tel the rest. On 6 July 2015, the telecom regulator cancelled Vision Tel Limited's licence.
Confirming the overdue amount, Engr Md Mesbahuzzaman, director general (Finance, Accounts & Revenue Division) at the BTRC, said, "As per the BTRC Act, we are taking all the necessary actions to recover the dues."