[dropcap]A[/dropcap] group of nine people posing as online sellers exploited Flipkart’s Seller Protection Fund (SPF) and cheated the billion dollar e-commerce giant.
The fraud was being committed since the early 2017 where a group of posers, registered as Flipkart’s online seller found a work-around to cheat the company. As per the police report, they studied the SPF scheme that guarantees an automatic refund to the seller if the sold product goes missing or is damaged in transit in case of a return from the customer and plotted to take the company for a ride.
Possibly operating out of West Bengal, the gang had registered as different sellers and started shipping their products via Flipkart’s logistics services. Every time the customers returned the product stating that the product is defective/wrong, the sellers informed Flipkart that the product is not returned to them and goes missing.
Hence, using SPF, they get refund for the product and the customer (suspected to be part of the gang) gets refund after having returned the product.
Having noticed so many cases of transit losses from West Bengal, the company officials inquired the matter, starting an internal probe on May 15, 2017. Soon after getting into the matter, Flipkart realized that eventually both, the sellers and the buyers are the same party and operating from different addresses.
It was suspected that the so-called seller shipped the product to the customer who would return the item to the seller and claim a cash refund. Meanwhile, the seller, who after procuring the product from their gang member (customer), would lodge a complaint with Flipkart that the product had gone missing.
Through numerous claims, the gang obtained a total transaction of Rs 17 lakhs.
We didn’t see that coming!!
In a bizzare twist, a Flipkart official who visited Siliguri in May 2017 questioned a man and a woman who registered as sellers and believed to critical in the fraud. Kumar also met another man, the couple’s aide, in Bengal who, according to Flipkart’s complaint, admitted to the fraud. Soon after that, the man’s younger brother is said to have deposited an amount of Rs 10lakh and a letter of apology to the e-commerce firm.
The elder brother met Flipkart agents in Kolkata on August 29, 2017 and demanded Rs 5 lakh be refunded to him as he had defrauded only Rs 5 lakh and his brother had wrongly deposited a higher amount. The firm also claims that the man threatened the investigating officer on WhatsApp, asking for a refund or face dire consequences!
(TOI was the first to report this development)