The Postal and Courier Services Regulatory Commission, (PCSRC), a regulatory agency of the Ministry of Communications, is set to roll out an electronic portal to provide an online profile of businesses to curb fraudulent activities.
The PCSRC says its newly-built platform will help consumers and the public “to obtain credible testimonials about businesses or to rely on online ratings”.
It says this measure will boost the confidence in the online trade in the country.
“A free-to-use electronic portal has already been developed to enable all members of the public to obtain directory information on all registered e-commerce traders and logistics companies (including courier services) in good standing with the PCSRC before doing business with them.
“This system will be integrated with telecom and corporate registries to close existing loopholes,” an April 27,2022, statement signed by the Executive Secretary of the commission, Hamdaratu Zakaria, said.
The statement and announcement was in reaction to an investigative report by The Fourth Estate on online shops that are set up to defraud unsuspecting customers.
The statement said the regulatory agency had “taken note of an investigative report by the Fourth Estate.”
“The report comes at a time of heightened concern about the fraudulent actions of some e-commerce, logistics, courier, and digital trading enterprises in Ghana and the sub-region,” the statement said.
The Fourth Estate story titled “Scammed: The Instagram “shops” defrauding customers” chronicled the accounts of one Eugene Owusu (not his real name), who needed a new sofa to add some spark to his home.
His wife had come across victoriasdecor_gh, an online furniture shop on Instagram, and recommended it because some of her friends followed that business account.
Though suspicious, Victoria’s “nice customer service” subdued Eugene’s suspicion, and he opted for same-day delivery. He then paid GHc1500 through Vodafone Cash to 0509504172. That mobile phone number is registered in the name of Victoria Mensah.
Eugene saw a business registration certificate with the name VICTORIA DECOR GHANA with registration number BN616222020 dated July 30, 2020, in one of the story highlights of the Instagram account of the online shop he was dealing with.
Many hours after paying the deposit, Victoria’s delivery vehicle did not show up. All attempts to reach her proved futile.
When the reporter, Josephine Badu-Nyarko, verified the registration details from the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), it was found that the registration number BN616222020 bears the name Pars Kitchen, a food catering business, and not VICTORIA DECOR GHANA.
In fact, there is no business registered in that name.
This is one of many harrowing accounts of online shoppers who got duped and never had the items they bought and paid for delivered.
Less than 48 hours after The Fourth Estate published the report, the PCSRC said the Ministry of Communications and the PCSRC had been taking important steps such as the “SIM registration process that is still ongoing” to address the worrying situation.
“In May 2022, the new regime for regulating digital trading and logistics enterprises will be launched. The PCSRC and the MOCD hope that we can count on the media, including The Fourth Estate, and the General Public to widely disseminate the information on how to avoid fraudulent e-stores and e-logistics operators using the new tools as and when they are rolled out and once the mass registration of e-commerce and courier operators has been completed,” the statement concluded.