CHEATING BY PERSONIFICATION ON THE INTERNET

Introduction:

Shadowfax- an online to offline startup crowded delivery and third party logistics service provider started by Abhishek Bansal and Vaibhav Khandelwal based in Bengaluru in 2015.

Meesho – E-commerce based in bengaluru founded by two IIT graduates Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal in 2015, where it provides small business to reach out customers via social apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp.

A legal notice was sent to social startup commerce Meesho and its logistic partner shawdowfax by Intellectual Property (IP) law firm[1], BananaIP Counsels[2] over fraudulent orders being placed on the formers mobile application and urged to remove this app from play store and apple store in August, 2021.

Both startups were accused of defrauding, exploiting and scamming the consumers on a large scale “resorting to unfair trade and fraudulent practices”, giving rise to both civil and criminal liability.

As the fact states that and the action is in response to an unsolicited package from Meesho delivered to Kankanala on his office address on 4 August through Shadowfax. Kankanala wasn’t in office at the time of delivery, and therefore the package was handed over to Rao who purchased the order and picked up it. Realizing it had been a fake order, BananaIP Counsels served a notice to Shadowfax and Manish Kumar Sharma, the sender of the package, on 5 August, stating that Kankanala didn’t place any order from Meesho or engage Shadowfax for delivery. Though Meesho wasn’t a celebration within the first notice, a representative from the corporate contacted Madhav to tell that the order was placed by a 3rd party. The notice established that Meesho’s voluntary response indicated that the Bengaluru-based company and its partners are conscious of the illegal transaction and its fraudulent nature[3].

And even the second notice was served with no response leading to question their activities and after coming into limelight the refunds were initiated and to the response Meesho also came up with ‘zero commission’, where the sellers can keep 100% of their profit. The company also appointed Deloitte to conduct forensic audit to investigate the fraudulent cases but cases are still arising and stated by the CEO that it would still take time to resolve the issues[4].

And hence no action was taken to remedy an equivalent and its availability on Google Play Store means the app continues to be vulnerable to fraudulent transactions which will harm consumers.

Today the web has taken the planet by storm. Especially after the Pandemic, almost every task is being done online, right from education to banking. With the increasing use of the web, the cybercrime rate too has gone up. Cybercrime is any crime conducted by the utilization of Computers and/or networks where the PC is employed either as a weapon or because the target. Everyday stories about cybercrime associated with cloning of credit/debit cards at ATMs, ransom ware, fraud, KYC (know your customer) frauds, etc.

Section 420 – Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property. Cybercrimes like creating Bogus websites, cyber frauds are punishable under this section of IPC with a seven-year jail term and/or fine. This section of the IPC deals with crimes associated with password thefts for committing frauds or creating fraudulent websites.

Legal Provisions:
Section 463 – Making false documents or false electronic records. Crimes like Email spoofing are punishable under this section with imprisonment of up to seven years and/or fine.
Section 468 – Committing forgery for the intention of cheating attracts imprisonment of up to seven years and/or a fine. Email spoofing is one such crime punishable under this section.
The provisions of sections 463, 465 and 468 of the IPC handling forgery and “forgery for the aim of cheating”, can also be applicable during a case of fraud.

Section 468 of the IPC prescribes punishment for forgery for the aim of cheating and provides a punishment of imprisonment of either description for a term which can reach 7 years and also a fine. Forgery has been defined in section 463 of the IPC to mean the making of a false document or part thereof with the intent to cause damage or injury, to the general public or to a person, or to support any claim or title, or to cause a person to spare property, or to enter into any express or implied contract, or with intent to commit fraud or that fraud could also be committed.

The provisions of sections 292 and 294 of the IPC would even be applicable for offences of the character described under sections 67, 67A and 67B of the IT Act. Section 292 of the IPC provides that a person who, inter alia, sells, distributes, publicly exhibits or in any manner puts into circulation or has in his possession any obscene book, pamphlet, paper, drawing, painting, representation or figure or the other obscene object whatsoever shall be punishable on a primary conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which can reach 2 years, and with fine which can reach Rs. 2,000 and, within the event of a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which can reach 5 years, to be amid a fine which can reach Rs. 5,000[5].


Identity theft and cheating by personation: Section 66C of the IT Act prescribes punishment for fraud and provides that anyone who fraudulently or dishonestly makes use of the electronic signature, password or the other unique identification feature of the other person shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which can reach 3 years and shall even be susceptible to fine which can reach Rs. 1, 00,000.

Conclusion: There has been various implementation been made for approaching both criminal and civil liability in the court of law for consumers and even NCDRC[6], for Protection of Consumer Rights. And in today’s world with increase of technology there has been increase in frauds as well and consumers are unaware about their rights and need be awaken[7].


[1] Based in Bengaluru.

[2] It works on projects concerning IP, Privacy, IT, e-commerce, consumer protection and related laws.

[3] https://www.techcircle.in/2021/08/16/meesho-shadowfax-get-legal-notice-over-fake-orders/

[4] https://www.mondaq.com/india/trademark/1042036/legal-and-ethical-issues-faced-by-the-start-ups-in-india

[5] https://www.kmctlawcollege.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/CYBER-CRIMES-IN-INDIA-REMEDIES-PDF.pdf

[6] The National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission

[7] http://ncdrc.nic.in/

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING IN THE SAME, DO LET ME KNOW.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at secondinnings.hr@gmail.com

In the year 2021, we wrote about 1000 Inspirational Women In India, in the year 2022, we would be featuring 5000 Start Up Stories.

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