Ashish Abdullah Robin, Daily Dhaka Times: The government should introduce a new policy to regulate the emerging e-commerce sector, which became vulnerable to risks after the alleged fraudulence by Evaly came to light recently, experts have said.
Around 3.7 million registered customers on the Evaly platform are at risk of uncertainty as the central bank has put a halt to the company’s financial transactions. Policy experts and civil society members emphasized policy development to fight any form of money laundering in the name of e-commerce.
“Allegations of money laundering have been raised against Evaly. If they are involved in such activities, there are laws to address the issue. Authorities can bring back the money laundered aboard as the existing regulations. In any sector, frauds should be punished through legal action,” Transparency International Bangladesh Executive Director Iftekharuzzamn told the Daily Dhaka Times.
Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit chief Abu Hena Mohd Razee Hassan said the central bank froze all accounts linked to Evaly. Banks were asked to provide information on the company’s financial transaction.
“We are analyzing the information provided by the banks. We will take decisions based on the findings,” Abu Hena Mond Razi Hassan. Also, a former Deputy Governor of Bangladesh Bank said.
It has been learnt that e-commerce company Evaly reportedly sold products worth Tk 15 billion in nearly two years of starting a business with a paid-up capital of only Tk 10 million as of December 2018.
Meanwhile, there are piles of allegations against the 20-month old company to different government offices. Analyzing the business model of Evaly, policy and legal experts suspect covert money laundering schemes in the name of e-commerce.
Avoiding outlet-based trading, Evaly commenced its journey to reach all kind of products at users’ doorsteps through digital platforms.
From motorcycle to refrigerators to mobile handsets to television to private cars, Evaly made aggressive business mode without following any regulations. The e-commerce platform attracted people through different ‘controversial’ campaigns. Users also alleged experiencing trouble during financial transactions.
Around 3.7 million customers transacted around Tk 3 billion through 1 million orders per month with the Evaly platforms. However, the company deposited only Tk 10 million to the government exchequer against the Tk 15 billion transactions.
Besides, 25,000 businesses are on board with 4,000 types of products on the e-commerce platform over the last two years.
The company registered with the Registrar of Joint Stock Company on May 14 in 2018, with Tk 5 lakh’s authorized capital and paid-up capital of Tk 50,000 only. However, the paid-up capital did not grow despite the massive growth of the company.
Of Tk 5 lakh authorized capital, there are 5 thousand shares of the company in the valuation of Tk 10. Evaly Managing Director Mohammad Rassel holds 1,000 shares, and his wife, company chairperson Shamima Nasrin owns 4,000 shares.
Talking to the Daily Sun, the E-commerce Association of Bangladesh (ECAB) General Secretary Abdul Wahed Tomal mentioned that the trade body is analyzing risks and challenges in the business model of Evaly.
“We are also trying to finding any linkage in the e-commerce policy. There are probe bodies to investigate the issue. Experts will compare Evaly business model with different angles. Ecab has initiated to bring out the truth in this regard,” Tomal said.
Ministry finds Evaly violated laws
Police headquarters’ probe report on Evaly
- Evidence of at least eight types of fraud and irregularities found
- Existing law has provisions for imprisonment for a maximum of seven years for such offenses
- Instructing Evaly to do business as per existing rules, policies suggested
- Directing Evaly to introduce cash on delivery mandatorily suggested
- Instructing Evaly to submit a monthly report on orders, deliveries suggested
- Allegations found:
1) Not delivering products on time
2) Not keeping proper contact with customers
3) Not returning advance payments in case of failure to deliver products
4) Offering e-balance instead of cashback
The home ministry has found evidence of violations of various laws by Evaly, an e-commerce platform in the spotlight last year for numerous alleged irregularities. An investigation team of police headquarters has found evidence of at least eight types of fraud and irregularities. The existing law has provisions for imprisonment for a maximum of seven years for such offenses.
The commerce ministry wrote to the home ministry in September last year, and the police headquarters were then given responsibility for conducting the investigation.
The home ministry sent a report to Commerce Secretary Md Jafar Uddin on January 12 this year based on the probe. The ministry recommended that the commerce ministry instruct Evaly to do business following existing laws and policies of the commerce ministry and the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection.
Md Hafizur Rahman, head of the digital commerce cell under the commerce ministry and additional secretary at the ministry, told The Daily Dhaka Times he could not comment on the matter as the home ministry report had not reached him yet.
When contacted, Evaly Chief Executive Officer Mohammad Rassel declined to comment. The ministry also requested the commerce ministry direct Evaly to mandatorily introduce cash-on-delivery instead of customers paying in advance when ordering products. This will remove the dissatisfaction of both consumers and traders, the report said.
The report was based on interviews with customers who had not yet received products or refunds after making advance payments six to seven months ago and reviews of the existing laws in this regard.
It suggested that customers’ complaints about not getting products or refunds even after making advance payments and not being able to use gift cards be investigated by the organized crime division of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police.
The report recommended that Evaly be instructed to submit a monthly report to the commerce ministry or the consumer rights protection directorate on how many orders it has received and how many products it has delivered.
The investigators found allegations of not delivering products on time, not keeping proper contact with customers, not returning the advance payment in case of failure to provide products, and offering an e-balance instead of cashback.
They also found evidence that money received through cashback offers was added to e-wallets instead of being returned in cash or to bank accounts and that customers were not allowed to use 100% of the e-balance to purchase products.
The report said low-cost and substandard products and products different from what was initially ordered are often delivered. The liability for these crimes rests with the company owner as per Digital Security Act 2018, the report added.
No cashback, delivery even in six months
Buyers have complained to the consumer rights protection directorate that they neither received the products they had ordered nor any refund within the stipulated time even after making advance payments. Investigators interviewed the complainants by collecting their names, addresses, and mobile numbers from the consumer rights protection directorate.
Fifteen buyers who ordered products between November 2019 and July 2020 complained that they did not receive the products or any refund even in October, even though the company had promised to deliver the products within a maximum of 45 days.
Rampura Mahanagar project resident Md Saifullah ordered a Tk119,445 scooty but did not receive it even after the passage of 116 days. Sunamganj Bilpar area resident Md Zillur Rahman paid Tk59,340 after ordering a refrigerator in July last year. The offer was later discontinued, but the product was not delivered. He did not get back the money either.
Md Ferdous Fakir of Sonapara village in Narayanganj’s Rupganj Upazila ordered a laptop on June 6 last year. He has not yet received the product or got the money back even though he was supposed to get the device within 45 days.
Anisur Rahman, a resident of east Bashabo in the capital, ordered a GEC fan, three mobile phones, a weight scale, an oven, and a bag on June 16 last year and paid Tk84,278. He has not yet received any of the products. Police have found evidence of many such cases.
Irregularities in the name of gift cards
According to the investigation report, Evaly’s gift card offer is one of the most tempting ones. For example, if a buyer pays Tk6,500 in cash and buys a gift card, a balance of Tk10,000 is credited to his Evaly account.
If he does not purchase any product by using that balance within the stipulated time, it becomes invalid.
Md Roknuzzaman, a resident of Amchattar village in Rajshahi’s Shah Makhdum thana, told the investigation team he had bought two Evaly gift cards for Tk55,000 but had not been able to buy any product by using them yet.
He can no longer use more than 60% of the cards’ balance, which are also nearing their expiry dates. He did not receive any satisfactory response even after contacting Evaly in this regard.
Committing offenses under existing laws
Although there is no separate law on operating e-commerce businesses in the country, a failure to deliver products on time after receiving advance payments is a “criminal breach of trust” and “fraud” under Penal Code 1860 and Consumers’ Rights Protection Act 2009.
The home ministry report said there is a provision for three-year imprisonment for criminal breach of trust and one year for fraud.
The Consumer Rights Protection Act provides for imprisonment of up to one year or a fine of Tk50,000 or both if a product or service is not correctly sold or delivered after a consumer has paid for it.
The home ministry said Evaly does not communicate properly with its customers through hotlines, support emails, the Evaly application, and social media. Such incidents are punishable under the Consumer Rights Protection Act.
The law says if negligence, irresponsibility, or carelessness on the part of the service provider results in loss of money or health of the customer, this could lead to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or a fine of Tk2 lakh or both.
Also, Section 418 of Penal Code1860 states that an offender who is obliged to protect a person’s interests may be subjected to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years if he cheats, knowing that the person will face losses or be harmed.
The home ministry report states that not fully allowing the money received from cashback to be used for buying products from e-balance is a “fraud” and said this could be punishable by up to seven years in prison under Section 420 of the Penal Code.
According to the report, there is a provision for imprisonment in the Penal Code and the Consumer Rights Protection Act to promise a product and deliver a different one.
37 lakh subscribers, monthly transactions Tk300 crore
Evaly formally commenced its journey on December 16, 2018, after taking registration from the Office of the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms on May 14 that year. It started with a paid-up capital of Tk50,000, and its current paid-up capital is Tk1 crore.
Evaly now has more than 37 lakh registered customers, and its monthly transaction is around Tk300 crore. At present, about 25,000 vendors are associated with it. Evaly initially introduced Voucher, a system that offered cashback to 200-300% for various products. At present, cashback up to 100-150% is provided.
The company receives a commission by selling around 4,000 types of products, including mobile phones, motorcycles, refrigerators, televisions, cars, and flats, on its platform. Evaly’s payment system is not like that of other e-commerce firms in the country. It does not offer cash-on-delivery facilities. The full price of a product has to be paid in advance.
The company’s founder Mohammad Rassel completed his bachelor’s in statistics from Jahangirnagar University. He then obtained an MBA degree from the Institute of Business Administration under the University of Dhaka. He launched Evaly after working at Dhaka Bank for about two years.
The e-commerce platform introduced an ‘impossible’ cashback offer to attract people. The company offers a maximum of 150 percent cash back offer, which is an ultimate violation of competitive business policy. To get maximum benefits, general customers have fallen into the offer trap of Evaly.
A customer, Rafique Miah, alleged that he ordered a product worth Tk 2650 under the ‘cyclone’ offer on August 13. However, Evaly charged ten times the payment from my account tagged with the platform.
“I have reported the issue alongside informing the customer care division of the company. The assured to solve the issue in 72 hours. But the problem has been solved in last one month,” he added.
Another customer alleged that the e-commerce platform offered cashback worth Tk 5,800 on June 24. But the company didn’t deliver the product he ordered. There is a ‘voucher offer’ in Evaly which offers a maximum 150 percent cash back and promises to deliver products in 7 to 45 days. Legal experts compared the business of Evaly with controversial multi-level marketing companies.
Evaly charged customers without delivering products, canceled orders citing the products were ‘out of stock.’ Besides, the company raised funds by claiming advance from customers in the name of ‘gift card.’ Regarding the issue, Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) President Syed Almas Kabir told the Daily Sun that the e-commerce platforms have to gain customers’ trust to sustain their business.
Evaly becomes a billionaire cheating with customers
It has been alleged that e-commerce company Evaly is cheating with customers in tactics. Delivery is expected to be made 15 days after order online, but the desired product does not get after waiting month after month. At the same time, many customers are suffering after paying money in advance for their desired outcome.
Recently, a customer has ordered a motorcycle for his elder brother from Evaly, but still, he does not get the ordered product. He had to leave the house for this. The victim Faruq Islam, said, “Today I am homeless after ordering a bike for my elder brother in Evaly. I will not be able to go home until I get a bike. Please pray for me and say how I can get Hero Bike from Evaly.
Every day, customers are facing such harassment from Evaly. They complain that Evelly never delivers the product on time. Even after waiting for three or four months, the customer is told that the product is not delivered due to the stock being out.
It has been alleged that the company does not return the money directly to victims. It will be adjusted when the victim will purchase a product next time, which is an offense in the Consumer Rights Protection Act.
Article 45 of the Consumer Rights Protection Act states that for not selling or delivering the goods or services promised in exchange for the price paid, there can be additional one-year imprisonment or indeterminate imprisonment or a fine of Tk 50,000 or both.
Victims said, “We can see our money but we cannot take it.” That means the company is cheating on us. Suppose they cannot give us the product, then why not immediately return the money. By doing so, they are keeping billions of cash in their possession. And with that money, Evaly is doing business. They go from one offer to another without delivering the previously ordered product. They are cheating like Destiny, who has made billions of money in the name of MLM business.
Recently, a customer has paid for buying three mobile phones, but the products did not deliver in time. When he got phones, it was not what he ordered, and for exchange, he had to pay extra money. He posted this cheating news on social media, and it went viral.
Victim customer Shamim Rafi told Daily Dhaka Times that I ordered three Motorola E5 Plus mobiles and paid Tk 23,070 through bKash. Mobiles are supposed to be delivered in 15 days. They did not give it saying out of stock. Later, they offered me Mi Redmi Note 7S, but three thousand more money will have to be paid for that.
Since I needed all three mobiles, I made a payment to Evaly another nine thousand takas, and they delivered me a mobile phone on November 22 via courier service called ‘Paperfly.’ But after seeing the delivered mobile and its money receipt, I become bewildered. Because they gave me only a single phone, but I paid for them for three phones.
When I immediately called Evaly’s customer care, I was informed that the remaining two mobile phones would be refunded. After I made a written complaint to consumer rights, some Evali officials gave the rest of the phones an apology to the consumer rights manager’s room.
He added that many victims have already come up with allegations against Evaly at the National Consumer Rights Protection Directorate. Every day such victims are coming. At the same time, some of the Evaly officials are always there to manage these issues.
On condition of anonymity a victim, said that the significant problem of Evaly is that they do not keep delivery time fixed. There are also questions about the quality of products. It’s been almost three months since I ordered and haven’t received the product yet. There is no cooperation from the authorities.
Halim, a customer, wrote in the comments on the page of Evaly that on December 16, I ordered a laptop but still not received it. Customer Care was informed that I would receive the product within 15 office days. With confidence, I did not even make another call. So far, the whole system is under processing. Could you please inform a reasonable reason, he asked Evaly Authority?
An Assistant Director of the National Consumer Rights Protection Department said on condition of anonymity, “Assistant directors are taking action on all the complaints we have received.” Action is taken when the evidence of the complaint is received. Regarding the number of allegations filed, he said, every day, many allegations are being made against Evaly.
When asked about allegations, E-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (E-Cab) general secretary Abdul Wahed Tamal said, “We have not received any customer complaints yet.” However, we have noticed the problem of Evaly through Facebook and other media. We informed those to Evaly. They told us they had taken appropriate action. When phoned several times about these allegations, the phone of Evaly’s CEO Mohamed Russell was found switched off.
Evaly accused of cheating over online offers
Dr. Sohag, a worse sufferer of online shopping-site Evaly’s cheating after ordering a TV from the site, has already paid the cost. Still, Evaly is requesting him to cancel the order instead of delivering the product. He has also made a complaint to the consumer rights for the matter. Many other customers have complained against Evaly for such fraud.
Cyclone, Londobhondo (wacky), ‘No 15 offer signal all over the country’, the company runs its cheating by attracting the people through many such offers in horrible names. Some people are also worried about pre-order money back.
Nazmul Islam Bhuiyan, a sufferer buyer who has been victimized by ordering a smartphone named Realme X2 model without any offers. The price of the phone is Tk 22 thousand 500.
The victim recently revealed the allegations on Facebook. He wrote on Facebook that he went stuck in Evaly’s trap after a week of ordering without getting any good news. The company’s helpline didn’t help him, while Evaly CEO Mohamed Russell’s WhatsApp app didn’t respond.
Another victim, Anik Biswas, ordered two winter hats in Evaly. He was also cheated only with Tk 600. Later Evaly delivered him lower quality torn hats, which are only available at Tk 150 in the market. But no solution was available even after complaining about its page.
Another victim, SD Bappi, said that he was the fraudulent offer of giving a mobile phone at Tk 16. Meanwhile, thousands of complaints have been filed with the National Consumer Rights Protection Directorate against Evaly.
Article 45 of the Consumer Rights Protection Act states that for not selling or delivering the goods or services promised in exchange for the price paid, there can be additional one-year imprisonment or indeterminate imprisonment or a fine of Tk 2,00000 or both.
Article 52 states that any action that could endanger the service-receivers’ life or safety by disobeying the rules and regulations laid down under any law or regulation could result in an additional three years’ imprisonment or indeterminate imprisonment, a fine of up to two lakh taka or both.
In Article 53, it is stated that if any physical hamper or financial loss has occurred for negligence, irresponsibility, or negligence of a service provider. There may be an additional three years’ rigorous or indeterminate imprisonment or a fine of up to two lakh taka or both penalties.
Assistant Director of the National Consumer Rights Protection Department Md. In the name of such offers of the e-commerce company, Abdul Jabbar said that if a customer is harassed or cheated, complain to us. He also assures to take action according to the privileged acts in the condition of investigation. He warns of giving no spare.
Mohammad Russell, managing director of e-commerce company Evaly, said he was out of the country. Later, when he was sent a question on his WhatsApp, he said he would answer after coming home. He did not receive mobile calls when he came home even no reply was received so far even after sending multiple SMS in this regard.
Seven agencies to investigate Evaly scam
Seven government agencies will investigate the fraudulence and money laundering allegations against the e-commerce platform Evaly as per the commerce ministry’s recommendation.
The government agencies are the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit, National Board of Revenue (NBR), Bangladesh Completion Commission, Public Security Division of Home Ministry, and Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection.
In separate letters, the commerce ministry directed the agencies to carry out the investigation. The commerce ministry sent the letter following recommendations of the committee led by Joint Secretary Abdus Samad. The inter-ministry committee was formed on August 24, and the body submitted its report on Thursday.
“There are many issues here (Evaly) which are out of the purview of the commerce ministry. As a result, we requested the bodies concerned to examine the issues as per the regulations of relevant regulatory authorities,” he added.
In the letter to ACC, the commerce ministry mentioned many allegations against Evaly for fraudulence, failing to deliver products in time, and money laundering. Evaly Limited, a registered company with joint-stock, maintained lion share to Mohammad Rassel and his wife, representing the position of managing director and chairman of the company, which is a violation of the Company Act -1991. Recently, the two-year-old company came under fire for its controversial market approach and suspicious business model.
Evaly, the latest digital business scam
Evaly offers consumers all sorts of lucrative deals, with ‘cash back’ offers going up to 100 to 150 percent. For example, if you buy Tk 100 worth of goods, you can get the same amount back or even more. Thousands of consumers are being lured in by these almost unbelievable deals offered by this Bangladeshi e-commerce company. A few are even making a profit, but most are still waiting to see the big bucks.
Not even two years into the business, this company has already sold Tk 10 billion (Tk 1000 crore). Yet the company’s paid-up capital is only Tk 50,000. As the business grows, a growing number of complaints have also been lodged against various government agencies. Experts apprehend that this method of interaction is conducive to money laundering.
Online shopping saves time and cuts down on risks. Evaly registered as a home delivery company for all sorts of products. It sells motorcycles, refrigerators, cell phones, televisions, and much more. Recently it has started selling cars too.
According to Evaly, the number of their registered clients exceeds 3.5 million (35 lakh). Its monthly transactions total Tk 3 billion (Tk 300 crore) in products. It has paid Tk 15 million (Tk 1.5 crore) in taxes against Tk 15 billion (Tk 1500 crore) in sales. On average, it receives orders of around Tk 1 million (Tk 10 lakh) per month.
In the meantime, another 25,000 retail companies have become attached to Evaly, receiving a commission on 4000 types of products.
This company started with a paid-up capital of Tk 50,000, still had a paid-up capital of 50,000. Evaly.com Ltd was registered on May 14, 2018, with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms. Its authorized capital is Tk 500,000 (Tk 5 lakh). The company’s managing director Mohammad Rassel owns 1000 shares worth Tk 10 each. His wife and chairman of the company, Shamima Nasrin, owns 4000 shares. Mohammad Rassel paid Tk 10,000 of the paid-up capital, and Shamima Nasrin paid Tk 40,000.
Founder of Evaly, Mohammad Rassel, holds an MBA degree from Dhaka University’s Institute of Business Administration (IBA). He began his career working at Dhaka Bank. After leaving the bank, he began business, importing ‘Kids’ brand diapers. Then he set up Evaly.
In the beginning, a system called ‘Voucher’ was introduced, offering 300 percent and 200 percent cashback. Now the money-back offers are 150 percent, 100 percent and later 40 percent too. Evaly began by selling pen drives for Tk 10 and T-shirts for Tk 15, creating quite a sensation.
Ex-additional secretary Mahbub Kabir recently made officer-on-special-duty (OSD) from the railway’s ministry for writing against corruption on the social media, recently posted a comment about Evaly on Facebook. He said there might be just five items, but 100 people deposit payment for these since no one knows.
But only five will receive the products, and 95 will remain hanging. People should understand that the seller or the company giving you 100 percent or 150 percent cashback will not pay from their pocket or inheritance. They are cheating others and resorting to other unethical means.
Innovative sales methods
A resident of Mirpur in the capital city, Kamrul Ahsan, on June 24, ordered two fans from Evaly for Tk 5,800. The delivery was to be made within 7 to 45 days. Kamrul got 90 percent cash back, that is, Tk 5,220 with the order. He finished the money on kacchi biriyani supplied by Evaly but has not received the fans as yet, though two months have lapsed.
Kamrul Ahsan, said, “I ordered the fans because I needed them. I have waited so long that I finally went and bought fans from the market. Even if Evaly eventually sends the fans, what will I do with them? That’s another headache.”
In the conventional way of sales, payment has to be made up front. Nowadays, systems to buy goods on credit or pay in installments have been introduced in the country. And online shopping has caught on in the past few years, where cash is paid on delivery. But Evaly does not follow any of these methods. It takes payment in advance.
At the outset, it was said that Tk 150,000 cash would be paid returned on goods bought for Tk 100,000. This was its ‘cash back’ bait. The money-back is deposited as a balance with Evaly, that too three days later. Then the customer can pay 60 percent of the product’s price from the balance. The remaining 40 percent comes from the customer’s pocket.
Evaly has ‘voucher offers’ of up to 150 percent. They have an alternative program called ‘campaign.’ Depending on the campaign, the products are supplied within 7 to 45 days. The Evaly authorities claim full rights to make necessary changes, revisions, or alterations to movements in the need arises. Some customers, however, complain that they do not receive their merchandise within the stipulated time. Evaly says that the products are supplied according to the stock. The customers can take their money back if they want.
A resident of Mirpur DOHS in Dhaka, Amanullah Chowdhury, submitted an application on July 14 to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) chairman, asking for investigations into Evaly’s activities. Amanullah Chowdhury told that Evaly is a digital MLM company. This should be banned in the interests of the country’s e-commerce platform.
Shortfall in supply
The main challenge in e-commerce is timely delivery, but Evaly cannot maintain this in most cases. It informs its customers that there is no stock, and so the order has been canceled.
Evaly also takes advance from customers in the names of ‘Gift Card.’ Those buying these ‘gift cards’ tie up their money with the company.
‘E-wallet’ is another Evaly feature. When a customer cancels his order, fed up upon not receiving his goods from Evaly, his money goes to the ‘e-wallet.’ EValy even cancels orders itself if there is no supply of any particular product. Then, too, the customer’s money goes to the ‘e-wallet.’ The customer does not get his money back but has to use that amount to buy some other product.
Giving an example of this, a deprived Evaly customer said that someone orders for an Asus laptop, pay in advance, and then two months later, Evaly says that this product is not in supply. There are other costlier laptops in stock, and the customer has no alternative but to buy one of those.
Evaly’s website has a ‘support’ option which provisions to make phone calls or send emails. But the phone has an automatic reply that says, “Our team is looking into the matter and will call you back soon,” or “Please be patient. You will receive your product soon.”
Section 45 of the Consumers Rights Act maintains that if the promised goods are not delivered in exchange for the settled payment, a one-year prison sentence or Tk 50,000 taka fine, or both, may be imposed.
Director general of the consumers’ rights protection directorate, Bablu Kumar Saha, told “We have received complaints against Evaly and are taking action. But many are not complaining properly and so are not receiving any solution.”
Daily Dhaka Times spoke to the Evaly MD, Mohammad Rassel, on August 16 at the company’s office down the road by Sobhanbagh mosque in the city. Another interaction took place over call phone on August 20.
Mohammad Rassel said that there was nothing wrong with Evaly’s sales methods. He said they followed various forms but did not violate the law. For example, he said, “Of the Tk 100 cash back paid on a Tk 100 product, 60 per cent is added to the Evaly balance. The customer pays 40 per cent anew to buy another product. Evaly incurs a loss of 12 to 15 per cent, but when the customer buys another product, the loss is covered.”
He said that COVID-19 had caused hitches in the supply of cell phones, motor cycles, and certain other products. However, there is no chance of not receiving the products.
No central cell as yet
In 2018 the commerce ministry prepared the national digital commerce policy. The policy’s objective was to ensure an appropriate environment, transparency, liability, and accountability for digital business, create trust between the buyer and the seller, and take legal measures to protect the buyer and seller’s interests.
A central cell was to be formed under the commerce ministry’s WTO cell, and the cell was to list digital commerce companies on its website. But two years have passed since then, and the cell is yet to be formed. But on the commerce ministry’s notice board, there are the names of 1000 e-commerce firms, including Evaly.
The policy maintains that the digital commerce companies must mention on their website the conditions regarding the return of sold goods, refunds, and replacement. Evaly’s website has no mention of this. Evaly does not have cash-in-delivery facilities as necessitated in the policy.
Commerce secretary Md Zafrullah, said, “We support e-commerce and there is vast potential ahead. However, fraud in the name of e-commerce will not be accepted. We have received complaints about Evaly and are looking into it.” He said that the cell would be formed soon.
It has been learnt that the main obstacle in forming the cell is the provision to include a representative from the information and ICT division. The commerce ministry is revising this condition.
When the MLM act was passed in 2013, Mahbub Ahmed was the commerce secretary. Speaking to Daily Dhaka Times on Sunday about Evaly’s marketing methods, he said, “Its operations are similar to a MLM company. I believe the facts will come to surface if Bangladesh bank investigates it.”
The e-wallet process in which Evaly is keeping money has no license from Bangladesh Bank. A week after the country’s outbreak of coronavirus, the central bank issued a notice, warning against any such wallet services without a license.
Mohammad Rassel said, “It is not just us, but the entire e-commerce that is on the rise. We are even trying to bring in foreign investment to Evaly. There may be some errors, but we are doing good business and have good response. We do not have the type of wallet that Bangladesh Bank has mentioned and so we do not need any licence for that.”
Lawyer Tanjib-ul-Alam, said, “Evaly’s style of work is a lot like MLM companies. Seeing the fraud carried out by such MLM companies, it looks like Evaly is doing the same. A company with Tk 50,000 paid-up capital is selling products of Tk 150 million (Tk 1.5 crore). If the company directors were capable, they could have increased the paid-up capital. It apparently seems to be a money laundering scam. But Bangladesh Bank can look into the matter.”
Evaly manager detained for not delivering products on time
A mobile court has arrested “a manager and two staff of e-commerce platform Evaly” in Manikganj on Monday afternoon for not providing products to the customers in a time even after taking the money in advance.
However, in a statement in the evening, Evaly CEO Mohammad Rassel said Evaly has no branch operations, and they have no relations with the detainees.
“Recently an office was set up in the name of Evaly at Paril Bazar area in Singair. They started selling products luring customers with more profit and attractive offers. But they were not delivering products to the customers for past few months,” the Singair Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Runa Laila, who led the mobile court, said.
“They took a trade license from the local chairman for opening an office for e-commerce shop there. They used to conduct transaction of around Tk1 crore daily though mobile banking and cash. There are complaints that they took money from people in assurance of delivering products which they never did,” Runa Laila added.
“The detainees used to roam around the area wearing Evaly’s T-shirts and the office has been set up in the name of Evaly as well. Even a signboard of Evaly is also present in front of the office. However, they could not show any valid paperwork for their business without the trade license,” she further said.
“Following several allegations from the local people, we raided the office on Monday afternoon. Manager of the Evaly branch Biplob and two other staff were nabbed from the office and we seized around Tk39 lakh,” she added.
Runa Laila also said that they are filing a case against them with Singair police station and sending them to jail through the court.
On condition of anonymity, a government employee from Paril village said that Biplob Hossain, through another person, gave him a proposal to invest Tk4 lakh in the business. He was assured that Tk2 lakh would be given as a return on investment every 15 days. If anyone wants to take back the invested money at any time, it will be refunded immediately. However, he said that he did not go ahead with the deal as he thought it was too risky when he heard about the huge profit margin.
Hours after the detention, Evaly CEO Mohammad Rassel issued a statement saying Evaly has no branch operations. They have only one office at Dhanmondi in the capital. He also claimed that Evaly has no relation with the three persons detained with money in Manikganj.
Evaly commenced with a full-fledged domestic initiative on December 16, 2018. Within a few days, the company started to gain popularity with startling offers and attractive branding. However, it has become the town’s talk over the past few months due to its controversial business model of product delivery.
Evaly : Long on promises but short on deliveries
Yeasin Ali ordered an air conditioner from the much talked about online shopping platform Evaly on June 27 this year as the summer was hot and humid. He placed the online order hoping to install the AC unit at his home and get some relief from the heat without any hassle. Summer has gone by, and Bangladesh is now feeling the touch of winter, but the e-commerce company has yet to deliver Yeasin’s air conditioner.
Without a solution in sight, the shopper went on social media and vented his frustrations by posting a screenshot of his order. Yeasin’s experience with Evaly is far from an isolated incident, as allegations of irregularities against the company have been mounting day by day.
The Department of National Consumers Right Protection (DNCRP) – a wing of the commerce ministry working to ensure consumers’ rights – had received only 93 complaints against Evaly in 2019. Still, complaints increased by nearly tenfold as of September this year, standing at 928.
In September this year, 239 complaints were filed against the company; the number was 111 in August, the data shows.
Responding to a query, DNCRP authorities said they would settle every dispute regarding Evaly. Still, due to the situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, they cannot organise a hearing despite having intentions to do so.
‘We are offering full refunds’
Md Sazzat, another customer of Evaly residing in the Sarishabari area of Jamalpur district, spent Tk69,590 to order three products from the online shopping platform on August 26, enticed by lucrative offers.
One of the products, a Samsung D3 Refrigerator, offered a 130% cashback, while the other two – an AIWA Smart Android 4K TV and another 32-inch TV – showed 50% cashback each. Evaly was supposed to deliver the products within the next 7-45 days, but as of December 1, Sazzat was still waiting for the delivery. Frustrated, he had contacted the Evaly customer care multiple times, but to no avail.
He also complained with the DNCRP on November 26, seeking its help with the issue. On October 26, the Evaly authorities promised that its customers who have yet to receive their products would get their deliveries or refunds within the next ten working days.
But the company failed to live up to that promise, too, causing hundreds of shoppers lured in by fancy discounts and cashback offers to end up with nothing but frustration and inconvenience.
When approached for comments, Evaly told The Daily Dhaka Times that it has been trying to overcome the delivery backlog, which was created due to a tussle with the administration.
“Alongside new orders, we are also delivering pending orders regularly. Besides, we are offering full refunds to customers who did not receive delivery of their products due to issues at our end,” said Evaly Managing Director Mohammad Rasel.
He added that Evaly is working to ease the gridlock in its delivery system and has recruited a new workforce in the logistics department for this purpose.
Rasel further said, “The platform has delivered around 8 lakh orders in October, which include 5,714 bikes, 36,895 smartphones, 32,977 electronic products, 1.29 lakh grocery, 28,474 fashion products and 6 lakh other goods.”
However, despite repeated queries, Evaly declined to comment on the current number of pending deliveries for the platform’s orders.
The company also refused to disclose the number of orders it is getting now. It used to get in September, before its tussle with the Financial Intelligence Unit of Bangladesh Bank over its business activities.
‘It is frustrating’
Despite being in hot water, Evaly recently made a promotional post for its “E-Food” on its Facebook page. The post’s comment section is rife with people venting their frustrations with the e-commerce platform.
Rubel, one of the disheartened customers, reached out to The Business Standard, stating although he paid for his order of light bulbs and sockets on August 9, the delivery is still pending.
“I have reached out to the Evaly Customer Care on multiple occasions and they have given me repeated assurance, but I have not received delivery of my order yet. It is very frustrating,” he added.
Another customer, Abrar Abdullah, ordered an air conditioner from Evaly on May 17, but he is also waiting for its delivery.
He added, “Evaly initially said they would let me know when I would receive the product. But after repeated emails, they kept giving me the same assurance over and over. Sometimes they do not reply to me at all.”
Evaly promised Sohel Bhuiyan the delivery of a Suzuki Hayate motorcycle within 45 days of payment, which he made in April this year. But after waiting for over six months, Sohel received notification of a refund instead of a new bike on October 11.
Last September, the E-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-cab) formed a committee to observe Evaly’s business. The platform is updating its business situation to the committee every month.
On condition of anonymity, a director at the e-Cab said, “The e-commerce platform has started to turn around. But due to a shortage of stock, it has been facing difficulties in delivering some of the products such as motorcycles.
A source at Evaly said the company is currently putting more importance on refunds against pending orders instead of completing pending deliveries due to a shortage of products.
However, many customers alleged that the e-commerce platform is not only failing to deliver expensive products such as motorbikes, TVs, and fridges, but it also cannot have smaller commodities such as a bottle of Parachute Coconut Oil.
Such is the case for HM Sharif of Madaripur. He commented on an Evaly post, “I placed an order for a bottle of Parachute Coconut Oil in summer, but winter has already arrived and I did not get the delivery. Is there a shortage of coconut oil in the market?”
The home ministry, 5 govt agencies to look into Evaly irregularities
The Ministry of Commerce wants the home ministry and five government agencies to take necessary action to look into the online activities of e-commerce platform Evaly, according to commerce ministry sources.
Other than the home ministry, Bangladesh Bank (BB), Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), and National Board of Revenue (NBR) have been asked or requested to join the investigation of financial transactions and other online activities of Evaly.
Earlier, the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP) and Bangladesh Competition Commission (BCC) was asked to investigate Evaly. Meanwhile, a three-member investigation committee of the commerce ministry submitted a preliminary report on Evaly to Commerce Secretary Dr. Md Jafar Uddin last week.
Under the condition of anonymity, an official of the commerce ministry said the six government ministries and agencies would investigate the business activities of the e-commerce platform Evaly to find if it violated any of their laws.
After receiving reports from the home ministry and the agencies, a workshop will formulate a new e-commerce regulation, the official also said.
Six letters were served to the agencies and home ministry signed by the Deputy Secretary of Commerce Ministry SM Rafiqul Islam. However, the letter did not mention a deadline to finish their investigation.
In the letter to ACC, the commerce ministry said the authorized capital of Evaly was 5 lakh taka. After receiving a 90 lakh taka loan from Dhaka Bank’s Konabari branch on February 11, 2019, its authorized capital was increased to 1 crore taka.
Besides, ACC will also investigate the allegation of fraud by Evaly by not providing products to its clients on time under ACC law 2004, the letter said.
The letter to DNCRP said it is alleged that Evaly did not deliver products to its clients within 15 days after receiving orders; instead, delivery time was extended to two months, which is a violation of DNCRP law.
The letter also mentioned that customers who purchased products from Evaly designated shops received money or cashback from the sold products, which is also a violation of CRPD law.
On August 27, Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) under Bangladesh Bank froze the accounts of Evaly’s Chairman Shamima Nasrin and Managing Director Md Rassel for 30 days under the Money Laundering Prevention Act 2019.
Earlier, a Bangla daily Prothom Alo report revealed that Evaly offers consumers all sorts of lucrative deals, with cashback offers going up to 80 to 150 percent.
Thousands of consumers were being lured in by these almost unbelievable deals offered by this Bangladeshi e-commerce company. Evaly.com Ltd was registered on May 14, 2018, with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms.
Bangladesh Bank to probe Evaly transactions, e-commerce activities
Bangladesh Bank will investigate financial transactions and other activities of the e-commerce platform Evaly. Abu Hena Razee Hasan, head of the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU), a part of Bangladesh Bank, informed reporters about BB’s move.
Yesterday, the bank accounts of Shamima Nasrin, chairman of online shopping platform Evaly.com, and its Managing Director Md Rassel, were frozen by BFIU under the Money Laundering Prevention Act 2019.
Hasan said the bank accounts of Evaly and its top executives were frozen after seeing media reports about the e-commerce firm’s “illegal activities.”
The banks and financial institutions have also been directed to send relevant documents of their bank accounts like account opening form, KYC (know your customer), updated transaction statements, deposits and withdrawal receipts over Tk 50 lakh, pay the order, bank cheques. The information about the payee and depositors, their NIDs with images, within five working days from the letter’s issuance, he said.
Evaly recently came under the spotlight after widespread criticism over its transactions. There are allegations against the company for delaying in delivering products even after taking money from customers.
Fishing MLM business policy of Evaly
Evaly has no products of its own. They sell products from vendors. But sometimes, you don’t know who the vendor is. They take money from you and promises to give you 150% cash back in return.
For instance, You gave an order of 100 tk. From this order evaly profit 30 tk. He gave you the product and a voucher for 150 tk. Now with this Voucher, you have to buy products from them. Otherwise, this Voucher has no value.
He promised he would give you 150% cashback, but he didn’t give you the money. He just made a promise. Whose name is Voucher?
You can adjust this Voucher to the next product price at 60%. You have to give him another sixty tk in cash for a 150 tk product. And you can only adjust 90 tk from the Voucher. You will not get another cashback on that product anymore. So what is the matter?
The first time he didn’t return the money to you, he gave you a voucher. The next time he adjusted the money in which you again gave him 60 tk in cash.
- And this product also had a 30% profit.
- At first, he earned 30 tk
- The calculation is like this
- Deposit – 100
- Cost 70
- Total income 30
- 150 for the second time
- Deposit 60
- Excluding 30% profit from the actual price of the product
- 105 tk
I mean 100 + 150 = 250 tk market thinking you gave him 100 + 60 = 160 tk cash. He gave you goods worth 175 tk. So, 60 tk for the first time, 105 tk for the second time. Seeing that, he is losing. Not actually because he doesn’t give cashback on all products; by showing this calculation, he only makes everyone understand. Remember that he never gave you any cashback.
Instead, you gave him 160 tk in cash if he can take his expenses below 160 tk or in any other way he can earn more than 15 tk that will be his business profit.
Evaly asks to redeem the Voucher all together. As a result, you have to order more expensive products. Then you give him more cash. But he takes money out of your pocket when he raises margins on high priced products. For example, to redeem the entire 150 taka voucher, you have to order a 250 taka product.
This time take the figure to 1500 tk instead of 150 tk. Then you have to pay an extra 1000 tk to redeem 1500 tk. That means gave him the first order. He gave another 1000 in the next order. Money keeps coming into him. I gave a voucher that could only be cashed with Evaly. Not everyone redeems coupons. And voucher redemption is usually higher in food, cosmetics products that have a higher profit margin. He also mentioned that the products that can be redeemed vouchers have a profit of 50% or more. Such as raw biryani. So before returning his Voucher, he enjoys a 30% profit for one month and two months. Then when the Voucher is deposited, he gets cash again. He still uses the money for a month and a half. Many times the product does not deliver and said that the product is not available.
Now think that if the price of the product is manipulated?
For example, a two-megapixel webcam with 100% cashback costs 3300 tk. The retail price of this webcam in the market is 1600 tk. I bought it myself online—100% cash back on this product. But in fact, he has made more than 100% profit from the beginning. Next time he is taking 40% more. Gaining more and giving back if you need a little something from the first time profit. He only gives huge cashback on products where his profit is 60% or more.
You can understand when you go to the place of cashback on his website. He is taking money by putting the product in front of him and delivering products lately. Many of those products deceive people. The higher price of the product, the delay in delivery. Sometimes it takes one month or more for the product to be delivered. This time he can earn many times more if he invests in any trading business, trading dollars, or using illegal payments.
Even within the contract, they acknowledge that they are not obliged to deliver the product to the customer. Will refund if needed. I do not return the money. Even if you have to pay, you only have to produce 40% of the second time. This is a cash collection scheme for products like Kajal in Jhenaidah. He is using the money for other purposes. He is sponsoring various programs, including dramas in the media. As a result, his image is increasing.
If he left 20 lakh tk in each channel in the media, he has gone 8 crore tk in 30 tracks. In this way, he has succeeded in giving advertisements to the rest. And you will see another exciting thing. He does not do his picture or any kind of publicity. If you make a deal with the company and cheat, the company will also understand, and the customer will understand.
Evely has written on all the billboards globally, but you will see no web URL. If there is a case, he will say that I did not ask anyone to go to my web. They have remained on their own. Let me tell you a hypothetical case.
At evaly you can order as many products as you like. As a result, many people buy products for resale. That means you wanted to buy ten motorcycles for selling. Evaly then uses the order of these ten of your products together as a dealer and takes a higher commission from the manufacturer. There is nothing wrong with that. But salespeople try to understand how to use it.
Suppose the runner tells their sales to discount ten thousand tk per bike this month—two hundred bikes target. Then the commission will be paid 10% more to the sales. The salespeople themselves order it at Evely and buy it. I bought and took a commission. Later this bike supplies. When the other time the sale order comes, the discount is gone. Many regular dealers also do this with the money they have left. So, I think you understood the fishing MLM business policy of Evaly.
Why evaly.com.bd have a low trust score?
The website might be a scam as we found several negative indicators for evaly.com.bd. We automatically reviewed evaly.com.bd by checking 40 different data points such as the location of the server, ratings are given on other sites, malware reports, the source code being used, and more. Scamadviser uses all this information to determine a trust score.
Based on our analysis, we gave this website a low trust score. As the check is done manually and no algorithm is perfect, it is advisable also to do your verification of the website before you buy or leave your contact details. Please feel free to use our checklist to see if the website is safe to use or fraudulent.
- This site seems to sell products online (how to check if it is a shop scam)
- The website’s owner is hiding his identity using a paid service
- The Alexa rank is high, but the site young
- We discoved the website is served from a high risk country
- Communication with this online store is not secure (no SSL) – Source: Xolphin
- Several, mainly negative reviews were found for this site
Reviews: THIS IS BIG SCAM
Evaly: Their main business is a scam, not eCommerce!
Most of the users of this site reported they are cheating with customers. Very poor customer service. They are not recommended! Their main business is a scam, not eCommerce. I don’t think they even have any capital or workforce. They just steal people’s money and keep rolling on that. It’s only a facade website for of big scam to steal people’s money.
First of all, they won’t let you order any without paying the whole amount. And most of the time, orders will get canceled or get stuck forever since this is not a real eCommerce site. And after your order gets canceled, YOU WON’T GET YOUR MONEY BACK!
All they do is give you a fake balance on your dashboard. And the twist is you won’t be able to use the balance to pay the full amount for any order if you want, even after all this, because they force you to add money although you have enough money if your dashboard.
And you can’t convert the fake balance into real money to get a refund to your card or bank. Since this a scam, they don’t have any real customer support. There is a fake call center number that is unreachable. So you won’t be able to get any help even if you try.
This fake scam site has all the flags of a scam site. So stay away if you don’t want to get scammed and lose your money! this website should be shut down. Someone, please notify FBI!
Evaly willing to change business model, if necessary: Muhammad Rassel
Evaly is ready to change its business model if required to do so to come out of the ongoing crisis. Its managing director and chief executive officer, Muhammad Rassel, has also claimed that his company has been doing business complying with the land laws.
At a virtual press briefing on Thursday, he denied allegations of money laundering by his firm. Rassel expressed hope that the e-commerce marketplace in Bangladesh will overcome the crisis without changing its existing business model.
Mentioning that both buyers and sellers are going through some difficulties, for the time being, Rassel hoped that the stalemate would end soon.
“We have been doing business in compliance with all relevant laws of the country. Even after that, if any law has been breached we will resolve that. If necessary, we are willing to change our business model.”
Rassel, however, did not mention clearly what might be the new business model. Evaly has been going through many controversies because of its business model and product delivery system.
The Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit of the Bangladesh Bank froze the company’s bank accounts. On the other hand, the Ministry of Commerce and E-Cab formed separate probe committees to look into the allegations brought against Evaly.
The Evaly CEO hoped that the company’s bank accounts would be reopened soon after completing investigations.
He said about money laundering allegations, “The Bangladesh Bank has the capacity to check money laundering. We want to assist the central bank in this regard. But, I would like to request them to investigate the money laundering issue keeping our bank accounts open.”
If Evaly can leave the country with money, Rassel said he does not think that they have to change the business or bring changes to the business model because they can flee the country. “Many bank owners also flee away,” he noted.
Speaking on allegations of failure to deliver products on time, he said such complaints are there even against online marketplaces like Amazon. “As there are complaints, Amazon has a complaint centre.”
“We have a team of 70 members who try to resolve the complaints. Maybe, there are some issues regarding refunding. However, we will try to address all issues. The Evaly call centre will also be modernised.”
About aggressive marketing, Rassel said they had to go for aggressive marketing to attract buyers. “But we did not do anything wrong. Our buyers are very much satisfied. The average delivery time of our products are 7-10 days. In the case of bikes, the time is 25 days, although it took 90 days sometimes. But we do not keep buyers’ to ourselves and keep them waiting.”