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E-commerce traders on DCI, CAK radar over growing scams

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters along Kiambu Road. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Traders on digital platforms are on a watch list of law enforcement agents with the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) revealing that it has tapped investigators to pursue rising cases of fraud.

CAK said it recorded a sharp rise in complaints of product and service misinformation, fraud, and dishonest conduct such as non-refund of cash on botched purchases last year.

The e-commerce platforms are accused of providing misleading information to consumers, delivering faulty or wrong products, and failing to refund consumers, among other dishonest conduct.

“The authority has seen the increase in complaints from consumers purchasing goods online, either from licensed e-commerce platforms or from suppliers using social media networks to market their products,” CAK said.

“The complaints relate to scams and fraud, mainly in e-commerce and trade which are criminal in nature. The Authority, in the financial year 2023-2024 will work with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to address these criminal cases,” the Authority added in its 2022/23 annual report.

Jumia, Text Book Centre(TBC), and Jambo Shoppe were among the top retailers reported to CAK last year.

“The Authority received a complaint from a consumer who purchased books online from Text Book Centre Ltd. The website had indicated that any purchase of books would attract “free delivery”. After purchasing, the complainant was informed that he would be charged for delivery since the free delivery was only for post office delivery,” CAK said.

The regulator said it also handled complaints against Jumia Kenya Limited where a consumer purchased food online but the order was cancelled without a refund. CAK intervened and the customer was refunded his money.