Recently, the Bangalore City Police Crime Branch raided the offices of a fake online shopping portal called BigSop.com (now defunct) based on complaints received on Twitter.

According to DCP (Crime) Abhishek Goyal, BigSop.com used to deploy pop-up advertisements that informed users that they had won an iPhone for Rs 599. Once customers registered and paid Rs 599, BigSop would convert it into points/credits instead of delivering the iPhone and force customers to buy some other product (most of it fake) of that price range available on the site. Apparently, several hundreds of customers had been duped by BigSop.com before the raid.

As per Goyal, BigSop used ICICI’s payment gateway for processing online payments. Based on the photos of BigSop’s office posted by Goyal on Twitter, it looks like the company had a fully functional call center and quite a big team working for it. However, I don’t think it was fair on part of Bangalore Police to post the photos of the employees on Twitter even if they were in on this scam as well.

BigSop was owned and operated by Bangalore-based Scube Solutions, which claims to offer services like website designing, web development, development of e-commerce web applications, and website maintenance services.

While the BigSop site is currently not accessible, the product page on Scube Solutions’ website claims that BigSop sells products like mobile phones from Apple, Nokia, and Samsung among others, digital cameras from Canon and Nikon and products various other categories like electronics, health & beauty, home appliances, fashion, music, movies and games.  The site also claimed to offer all the regular payment options including cash on delivery, debit/credit card, net banking, and even interest-free EMI payment option.

Our Take

There’s no question that strict actions should be taken against BigSop.com and Scube Solutions. However, I would also like to point out that customers shopping on relatively obscure online portals should be a little more careful. It’s foolhardy to believe that an iPhone can be won for Rs 599.

What’s also interesting here is the way Bangalore Police has taken to Twitter and is using the platform to receive complaints and more importantly act on these complaints. Last month, the police had reportedly used Twitter to bust a fake job consultancy network and it is regularly using them to solve citizen issues.

There is also some sort of transparency on what the complaint was, where it originated from and what action was taken on the complaint.

In addition, the department also seems to be using these platforms to crowd source information from citizens.