Penalties for pranksters preying on online sellers set

AN ordinance is set to be filed in the Sangguniang Panlungsod penalizing the act of bogus buyers or pranksters who order food and grocery items online providing fake points for delivery, leaving the unsuspecting delivery personnel to pay for the ordered items.

This was agreed upon during a committee hearing of the SP on Thursday on the draft ordinance (No. 0-756) filed by Councilor Karlos Liberato Reyna IV.

The proposed measure took note of series of incidents during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many Dagupeños turned to online commerce to order food, groceries and other goods owing to quarantine restrictions.

While surge in the growth of online commerce, said Reyna, benefited both sellers and buyers, spawning a new era in digital economy and created many opportunities, particularly the creation of new employment opportunities such as the delivery of such goods and services, Reyna said there were many reports of failed deliveries deliberately caused by pranksters that hurt many small and medium-scale entrepreneurs, including hapless delivery riders.

In most cases, the delivery boy ended up paying for the undelivered items since he can’t remit payments as proof that the ordered item was delivered.

According to Reyna, the proposed measures seeks to protect sellers and delivery personnel from abuse because it defines bogus buyer as a person who shows interest on an item and places an order via online, phone call, text messages and chat and disappears.

Under the proposed measure, the confirmed owner of the mobile phone numbers, landline number, as well as the social media account or e-mail address used for the prank is prima facie evidence to be considered the caller or customer who placed the order.

Any person violating or causing, inducing, or abetting the violation of any prohibitory provision of the ordinance, shall upon conviction, be imprisoned for less than one month but not more than six months and pay a fine of not less than P1,000 but not more than P5,000. Such penalty or fine, or both, shall be imposed at the discretion of the court. (Leonardo Micua)  

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