We have all heard about robbery and thefts happening in shops and marketplaces in the real world. But as we are moving into this online-state-of-mind, known as the virtual world, which would have imagined thefts were possible on the most secure platform such as the internet? Well, it happens, and with a platform as vast as Amazon. Not too long ago, Amazon just got robbed away, for as big as 50 lakh INR amount. Seems impossible? It wouldn’t once you read on and discover how the smart brains of this 21-year old worked.
Not just once, but Amazon was robbed twice this month. One case comes from the National capital-New Delhi. The scam exploited the loopholes in Amazon’s return policies and used them for nefarious actions.
Shivam Chopra, the 21-year old mastermind who robbed Amazon for 50 lakh got the criminal idea of money making while his return policy for some product he bought online. He played a smart game, but unfortunately, nothing remains hidden from the eyes of the law. He used to order expensive intelligent phones from Amazon and chose cash on delivery.
When the delivery guy came to deliver the handset, he used to ask them to go to a nearby location, not his actual home. He used to pay by cash, get his Smartphone. Within a few hours of receiving, he would complain about delivering an empty box. While the Amazon worked on his refund, given their customer friendly policies, he would sell the handset in black markets in North-West Delhi, namely, Gaffar market or Olx/Quikr web portals. However, within few hours, he used to report to Amazon that he has received an empty packet and used to claim refunds.
Much to everyone’s surprise, Amazon’s return policy didn’t check the authenticity of the claim (which is a huge error) and used to directly refund the whole amount as a gift voucher to Shivam.
Now, he used to order another Smartphone with the gift voucher, and sell off the handset and repeat the entire process, again.
What we said above sounds almost impossible to you as it did to us, but Shivam was a real game player. He knew that one would need different mobile phones for ordering various handsets. The reports said that Shivam with the help of a local telecom store owner named Sachin Jain, 38, bought new SIM cards for as low as INR 150 only. With the help of modern SIM cards, he could quickly order various handsets to different locations and time.
According to the charge sheet that police filed against him, Shivam possessed 141 pre-activated SIM cards for executing this scam and scammed Amazon of 166 smart phones between the entire duration of April and May this year and a total of Rs 50 Lakh.
As per police reports, Amazon grew suspicious after the refund request started originating from the same location in Delhi’s North West region. After Amazon initiated an internal inquiry, police launched a manhunt for this semester and were able to arrest him a couple of days ago, and slapped various sections of Indian Penal Code.
After the remand, police acquired Rs 12 lakh of cash, 19 handsets, and 40 passbooks of several bank accounts from his place. Along with 10 lakh cash, he kept with an acquaintance of him from a long time.
The second case of online cob is from Bangalore city, where an engineering graduate, Deepanwita Ghosh, aged 32, a native West Bengal resident claimed refunds for products she ordered and returned with inexpensive dupes.
Ghosh masterminded 104 such fraudulent transactions and pocketed an amount of Rs 69, 91,940 before she was finally caught by a Hennur police team towards the end in April. She was soon remanded in judicial custody and sentenced to prison on ghastly charges of cheating and online fraud.
As per the complaint lodged by the police on April 18, by Amazon representative, namely, Denu T Nair, Ghosh was allegedly using faux names and purchased 104 products. This list of products included high-end items and equipment, such as SLR camera, LCD TV, expensive smart phones, and numerous other electronic gadgets. The report said that she would request for the exchange within 24-hours, under the Amazon’s customer return policy, called, the C-return and demanded refunds almost instantly.
“Every time, the delivery address was other than the C-return address. Much often the re-delivery would be in different states or cities. After getting a repayment from Amazon to her bank account, Deepanwita would cleverly replace the product with a cheap one and returned the package to the delivery person,” said Ajay Hilori, deputy commissioner of police, Bangalore east.”
The deputy commissioner also added that the women have been deceiving Amazon services for as long as an entire year! The chief reason why Ghosh was able to pull off this act of cheating because Amazon didn’t have the policy to check and inspect the item at the time of returning. It was only much later that the product could get identified. Amazon’s seller service in Bangalore spotted most of the returned items as fake; an internal probe was brought into action out which zeroed in on Ghosh.
The police investigation even showed that Ghosh worked as a seller on another online shopping portal with the false name, Rajarshi96 and readily took orders for high-end electronic items that she bought from Amazon. She placed a parallel order for each product simultaneously and got Amazon to ship the product to her clients’ addresses in different cities, wherever she received a request, in the price quoted less than the MRP. “As soon as her customer received the product, and Ghosh received cash for it, she would file the C-return customer service and demand a refund by returning the first copies available in the market. She nearly earned double the amount without giving much rather than her efforts to click” narrated an investigating officer.
It is much evidence that such incidents of malpractices are of much importance, and dealt with extreme seriousness. A spokesperson ensured that the firm is extending any support/information needed for a police investigation.
Sources close to Amazon Bangalore said this case generated the need for this e-commerce major to modify and re-define its customer product return policy. “Currently, items such as cell phones are taken back from customers only after verifying IMEI numbers and other electronic equipment following corroboration of the unique product codes. Besides, a trail of other thorough inspections is undertaken, too. An acknowledgement with the customer’s signature is also attached at the time of return of expensive items,” a company warehouse executive added.
The primary issue with such scandals of exploiting return policies is that authenticated users, who genuinely face matters during online shopping, are left high and dry while attempting to file a return.
Hope this case becomes a lesson for all those, who think of scamming e-commerce portals, because of that unfair, criminal and unethical. The biggest problem with such scams executed by exploiting return policies is that legitimate users, who genuinely face issues during online shopping, are left high and dry while attempting to file a return.
Hope this case becomes a lesson for all those, who think of scamming e-commerce portals, because of that unfair, criminal and unethical. Nothing stays out of sight; nothing remains hidden forever. They cheated, they thought of deceiving an entire server of an extensive network of people taking care of the frauds. How long can one stay oblivious to the fact that they are playing safe? Apart from honesty, nothing is safe and secure.
Article by Pooja.