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Man orders phone online, says got empty box, gets refund 166 times

A 21-year-old man has been arrested for duping an e-commerce company of Rs 52 lakh by ordering expensive mobile phones and later getting refunds by claiming he received an empty box, police said on Tuesday.

In April and May, Shivam Chopra, a hotel management graduate, allegedly sought refunds on 225 mobile phones and managed to trick the company into making a refund on 166 occasions, said Milind Dumbere, DCP (north-west).

A resident of Tri Nagar in north Delhi, Chopra worked in some hotels for a brief period and is currently unemployed.

He was arrested last week following a complaint by the e-commerce company whose internal team investigated the crime.

Explaining his modus operandi, Dumbere said that Chopra relied on Sachin Jain, a telecom store owner, to provide him SIM cards on fake identity proofs. “Chopra procured 141 SIM cards and created more than 50 email IDs using those numbers. He created many accounts on the e-commerce app and began ordering mobile phones,” he said.

Chopra would allegedly provide fake addresses for delivery. “When the delivery boy would be unable to trace the address, he would call Chopra for directions. Chopra would then call him to a random place and receive the product by paying cash. This process would ensure his real identity was never known,” added Dumbere.

Minutes after the delivery, Chopra would allegedly seek a refund from the company by claiming that the phone box was empty. The company would initiate the refund in the form of the gift voucher. Chopra benefitted twice – by receiving the refund and by selling the new phone without its box and documents.

“Chopra misused the e-commerce company’s ‘customer satisfactory policy’ by working in a planned manner,” said Dumbere in a press conference which was also attended by a team of the e-commerce company.

When questioned by Hindustan Times, the team members refused to comment on the seemingly easy method for anyone with fake credentials to dupe the company.

Neither the police nor the company officials at the conference answered questions on the mechanisms in place to verify a customer’s allegations in such cases.

“The company realized that they were being cheated when they found that all the purchases were being made from one particular neighbourhood in Tri Nagar,” said an investigator not authorized to talk to the media.

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Despite his efforts to allegedly procure multiple SIMs, create email IDs and have several bank accounts, Chopra erred when it came to creating a fake name. “He operated under the fake name of Shubham. It sounded similar to his original name, Shivam. He did not find it necessary to use a new name each time,” said the investigator.

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With this name and the details of the modus operandi, the company approached the Shalimar Bagh police station in north-west Delhi last month. A case was registered and the investigation was handed to the district’s cyber cell team.

Weeks of investigations on the purchase trails led the police to Chopra. “Three delivery boys have identified him,” the investigator added.

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