Promoters of Noida based online retailer Timtara have been arrested by the economic offenses wing of the crime branch for allegedly cheating over 200 shoppers. The company’s director Arindam Bose and chief executive officer Harish Ahluwalia were arrested for “criminal breach of trust” under section 406 of the Indian Penal Code. [Source]
Crime branch officials estimate the size of the fraud to be around Rs 12 lakh. However, it is expected to be higher as more consumer complaints surface against the online retailer.
Consumers who bought online from Timtara have been complaining on online forums for many months now. Online forums like NextBigWhat community, Mouthshut (link) and the Consumer court’s site (link) are awash with complaints from irate customers of Timtara.
Earlier, in April 2012, sach4sach, one of the NextBigWhat Community members highlighted that Timtara is not delivering products. We had tried reaching out to Timtara, however, the company did not respond to repeated calls or messages.
This is perhaps the first case of big ticket fraud in the nascent ecommerce industry although there have been multiple consumer complaints in consumer courts about wrong shipments, billing and service delays. Sometime in 2006, Kingfisher airlines had launched a complaint alleging that fraudsters duped them of Rs 17 cr in a credit card fraud spanning over 3 weeks.
Payment solutions provider EBS (now Ogone) which said that the company had withdrawn their services to Timtara last year in the wake of large number of consumer complaints.
Timtara and Impact on Indian ecommerce space
The fledgeling ecommerce industry in India is going through a tough time with many of them forced to shut shop (seventymm) and some forced into mergers. Nothing can be as bad as this news for Indian ecommerce space, which has been lamenting about low trust levels of Indian consumers. Unlike in the west and other mature markets, Indian consumers are a tad reserved about using their plastic (credit, debit or Internet banking) cards for online shopping.
The news will hurt more startups in the ecommerce space, with more users opting for cash on delivery services. Cash on delivery can be an expensive proposition and will add to customer acquisition cost to the cash starved industry.
What are your thoughts?
Recommended read: How India can minimize credit card fraud in 60 days
From NextBigWhat community: Infibeam is doing fraud openly.