When e-commerce was introduced in the country, government policy makers campaigned hard for it. Prominent people of different sectors also campaigned to attract the general customers. Many e-commerce companies sprang up overnight with the approval of the concerned departments and ministries of the government. Last September, the fraud of several e-commerce companies came to the media that did not provide the product after receiving money from the customers.

The companies that have been accused of embezzling money from customers are Dhamaka Shopping, Alesha Mart, E-Orange, Sirajganj Shop, Aladdiner Pradeep, Boomboom, Adian Mart, Need.com and Qcom. It is learned that a police officer of Gulshan police station in Dhaka was operating E-Orange under a pseudonym. He fled the country with millions and was caught in India. Despite the prisoner exchange agreement between the two countries, the government has not taken any initiative to bring him back from India. In this case, the protector of the law turned out to be the violator.

According to a report of Prothom Alo on Tuesday, the concerned authorities do not have accurate information about how much money those e-commerce firms owe or how many customers have been cheated. Correspondence is being made between the Ministry of Commerce, Bangladesh Bank and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the police. The Ministry of Commerce had asked Bangladesh Bank to look into nine e-commerce companies on 24 August last year. Tapan Kanti Ghosh, senior secretary at the commerce ministry, said the government was working on how to get the money back quickly for consumers who have ordered from various digital companies and have not received any goods or refunds. Unique Business ID will be launched shortly to manage e-commerce.

Everything is based on false hope. But it is construed from the Prothom Alo report that the issue of refunding the customers has not progressed much. In this context, at an event held at the Ministry of Commerce on Monday, Tk 4 million held in Foster Corporation for 20 orders from customers, who had placed orders on QCoom.com was refunded. Individuals familiar with the matter said that the company has taken Tk 590 million from 6,571 customers, which will be refunded in phases. This initiative of the Ministry of Commerce can be marked as a good start. Now it is their duty to make arrangements for other companies to return the money of the customers. Owners and officials of several such firms have said that they could not refund the money as they have been staying in jail. The owner himself is in jail, not their assets. The question is why they cannot refund the money?

We hope that the government will take immediate steps to make e-commerce companies to reimburse customers’ money and the list of companies and customers will be released on the website. This way people will know how much money these companies have embezzled in the name of selling products. E-commerce is now a recognised and popular business around the world. Those who have tainted this business sector with fraudulence should be brought under trial.