Whether online selling directories help you, when you are affected by a fraud, or if you have been cheated?

A stereotypic reply you might get from the famous online selling and buying websites and mobile based apps.  Example, olx, quikr or any other website etc.

The first problem you might have is that you might not even have an access to the customer support team, and their office address, suppose even if you are able to make a contact the support,  after long waiting over the phone, the reply you might get would be unsatisfactory..

We understand that your grievances and queries are in relation to the functionality of example… www.abx.in (Website). Please understand that www.abx.in  is a classified website and provides the services on as is basis. We are striving towards improving our users experience. I can only help you by providing the details to the police about alleged fraudulent user.

As such, the stereotype message what you might get from the customer support or  their legal team is….

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We understand that your complaint is in respect with an ad posted on www.abx.in (Website) having AD id 324242424. Our customer support team has been constantly in touch with you and has blocked the user through which the ad had been posted.

On perusal of your recent conversation with our customer support team I understand that you are disgruntled by the fact that we have not provided the details of the alleged fraud user to you.

At outset you need to understand that abx Website is merely an online service allowing users to post free classified advertisements and is classified as an intermediary under section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act). In accordance with section 79 of the IT Act being an intermediary abx obligation is only limited to facilitating a user to post advertisement on the website. Further as per the IT Act, abx cannot be held liable for any fraudulent transaction emanating from such advertisement posted by any third parties.

Being a lawyer yourself you must be aware that there are certain procedures that an Intermediary is required to follow in accordance with the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Information Technology (Intermediaries guidelines) Rules, 2011 vide which we can only provide user related information upon receipt of a lawful order from Government agencies who are lawfully authorized for an investigation.

For your convenience I have mentioned the relevant provision -Rule 3(7) the Information Technology (Intermediaries guidelines) Rules, 2011 below:

When required by lawful order, the intermediary shall provide information or any such assistance to Government Agencies who are lawfully authorised for investigative, protective, cyber security activity. The information or any such assistance shall be provided for the purpose of verification of identity, or for prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution, cyber security incidents and punishment of offences under any law for the time being in force, on a request in writing stating clearly the purpose of seeking such information or any such assistance.”

So, would request you to approach the Police station wherein you have filed the complaint and ask them to send us a Notice under Section 91 CrPC asking for the information the alleged fraudulent user. On receipt of the same we will promptly provide the information and we hope that the police will be able to track the culprit and bring him to justice.

However, even upon receipt of our above explanation you decide to institute any proceeding under law against abx, you shall be responsible for the cost and consequences arising therefrom. We reserve the right to proceed against you for any cost incurred by us in defending the matter.

We understand that your complaint is in respect with an ad posted on abx (Website) having AD id 12345678. Our customer support team has been constantly in touch with you and has blocked the user through which the ad had been posted.

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Well, from my opinion and findings, their legal arguments are not correct and it is false.

First, Though they have contact number, ip address and email address of the fraudulent seller, who cheated, they wont make any attempt to call the seller and convey that the buyer is affected and you need to address this issue, instead, they just block that particular ad and which was already sold and as such allow the seller to continue posting other ads.  Moreover, they allow the fraud seller to change his sim and further allow to sell by posting new ads from the same app.

Second, they legally use terms such as they will give information only to police, you have to make a complaint with the police station. As if, the police station is their sister concern and police department is their staff. Going to police station for small value frauds would cost more the money lost in the purchase.  All they threat you that if any legal action taken, we have to bear the costs and etc.

As such, Police will not have time to attend you, follow your case, and in turn  to communicate with the website support team and demand any information.

Even as per law, even if they are only mediators, In conscience with law,  IT Act section 79, sub section 3, aiding sellers for unlawful acts. abx.in  precisely doing that. Moreover liability is not the question here, just about the responsibility. Excuse is not a reason for an exception to a law.

Note: But, if you technology geek, use the mobile app change your number, to find similar ads again. You might be able to identify the persons location using map tool. Create a communication and get him on loop, locate his map locations. Once you traced his location, take local police help to visit his premises and recover you money..

No thief leaves without leaving a clue.

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