You wouldnâ€™t expect Flipkart and Amazon - two of the biggest e-retailers - with supposedly fail-safe security measures to be conned in this manner.
But that's exactly what has happened.
A week after a person from Hyderabad was allegedly arrested for duping leading e-commerce website Flipkart of over Rs 20 lakh, an investigative report released by the police has suggested that the accused also cheated Amazon of more than Rs 16 lakh.
The chief accused Veera Raghava Reddy, "cheated the online shopping multinational companies Flipkart for around Rs. 20,00,000/- and Amazon for Rs.16,17,000,â€ť the report states.
Veera Reddy is a 25-year-old techie, who lives in Durganagar colony of the city and is a techie involved in "computer repairs". The police say that it was this technical knowledge that helped him in committing the fraud.
The investigation report also suggests that his entire family operated as a "gang", including his elder brother, mother, wife and sister-in-law, who "conspired together" to dupe the two companies.
"The gang had been operating for the past two years. The main accused probably wanted to make some quick money," Inspector B Pushpan Kumar, one of the main officers who cracked the case, told The News Minute.
Last month, Flipkart approached the police and complained of some irregularities in their order returns from the area where Veera lived.
"We took up the complaint and studied the patterns of bookings, cancellations and refunds and realized that the entire thing was a huge fraud," Kumar said.
A case has been registered under Sections 379 (Theft), 420 (Cheating), & 120 (B) (Criminal Conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code at the Vanasthalipuram police station.
The modus operandi
The family only ordered electronic devices like processors and hard disks, using various fake e-mail IDâ€™s, phone numbers and different addresses.
Once they received the item, the gang removed an important component from the item or replaced the entire item with a duplicate and submitted a complaint to the company that the item was substandard or not up to the specifications promised.
The companies would then send their delivery boys, who would not have much technical knowledge and the product would be replaced or the money refunded.
The accused would also resell the parts that were removed from the item. The police have seized 120 sim cards, four computer processors and a hard drive which was in Reddy's possession.
According to the police, the accused made around Rs 55 lakh as a result of the fraud and spent Rs 10 lakh for his personal use.
The police have since frozen the remaining Rs 45 lakh in the bank account.
"The rest of the family is absconding and a hunt is on to nab them. Veera Reddy has been sent to judicial remand but we are asking for police custody for further investigation," Pushpan Kumar added.