The massive cheating by a section of e-commerce platforms is now the most-discussed issue almost everywhere. The policymakers, the media, even the judiciary are now busy dealing with it. The victims of fraudulent activities by a section of e-commerce platforms, namely, e-valley, e-orange, e-dhamaka, have been staging street protests in the city. The chairman and the chief executive officer of e-valley, the platform that has lured thousands of young people through its massive and well-orchestrated campaign, are now in police custody and facing several cases. A petty police official, who helped to float the e-orange, another digital business platform, to cheat innocent people, was caught by the Border Security Force (BSF) while fleeing Bangladesh. He is now in an Indian jail.
Against this backdrop, a high-level meeting, attended by at least four ministers discussed the issue of e-commerce fraudulence in detail last week and, reportedly, decided to enact an appropriate law and establish a separate authority to control the e-commerce business. But that is about the future.
The relevant authorities, the commerce ministry, in particular, need to explain as to why they kept their eyes and ears shut when the problem was brewing. Advertisements, both in electronic and print media, on their business strategies were enough to raise suspicion.
The government needs to mete out punishment to sponsors of the e-commerce platforms that have been used to embezzle funds worth billions through fraudulent means. Most victims are young people who invested a sizeable amount of money to do business. People are not sympathetic towards the victims, for the latter had invested money out of greed. The discounts offered on various purchases were abnormally high, and it was not that difficult to see the absurdity involved in the offers. The e-valley in particular took the lead. Taking advances against buy-orders has been yet another ploy. Some e-commerce platforms that have earned both name and fame offer the buyers several options to make payments against their orders. They usually accept payments at the time of delivery of goods. A leading South-Asian online marketplace has been operating in Bangladesh for quite some time and has over 4.0 million daily users. Some local platforms have also earned the trust of people by their prompt and unblemished service.
The truth is the people have become used to e-commerce platforms during the pandemic. When the government had imposed restrictions on movements and all economic activities to help rein in the disease, many people took recourse to buying goods from online shops. This created an opportunity for both honest and dishonest entrepreneurs to establish e-commerce platforms.
It is only recently many people had got cheated by several so-called multilayer-marketing (MLM) companies. Destiny and Jubok were the market leaders. Thousands of youth got involved in these companies that defrauded millions across the country. Some of the key sponsors of the MLM companies are in prison. But the victims have not got a penny back.
Even before that time, the stories of cheating hundreds of people by Hundi Kajol of Kotchandpur in Jhenaidah and the like had hit the news headlines. In most cases, people deposited cash with the fraudsters who had promised to pay high returns. They had paid some people high returns only to lure many others and decamp with cash at the opportune moment.
Greed is one factor that leads one to difficulty, sufferings, loss etc. There are instances of ill-effect of greed factor galore. Yet, some people cannot resist its temptation and suffer, ultimately.
But what has the government done on its part to stop the wicked from cheating people? The truth is unpalatable. The relevant government agencies did not care to notice what was coming. They remained indifferent when the MLMs were flourishing. These firms held business meetings in the open. Even government stalwarts attended their events. The sly sponsors got a few big names involved in the operation of their enterprises. When the end came, the government feigned actions that produced nothing. Millions of MLM victims do still lament their financial loss.
Now the Ministry of Commerce is talking about enacting a particular law and creating a regulatory body for the e-commerce platforms. How could it remain just an onlooker when e-valley or the like putting up advertisements in both electronic and print media to lure people offering absurd discounts?
The main reason behind unscrupulous people becoming successful in their bid to cheat people is a serious dearth of good governance in every sphere. Maybe there is no particular law governing e-commerce operations. But what is the situation in other sectors where there exist strong laws and regulatory bodies to oversee? Are they going smooth? Everybody knows the answer. When enforcement of laws is lax and regulatory bodies do not mean business, one does not need to elaborate on the prevailing situation. So, everything boils down to one particular factor --- good governance. And the nation needs that badly.