Loan application scammers move to Nepal

Posted: Posted Date – 10:58 PM, Mon – 25 Apr 22

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Hyderabad: After last year’s crackdown on illegal instant loan apps and the exposure of the Chinese angle, many scammers appear to have moved to the Philippines and Nepal to hide their Chinese identities, according to preliminary investigations by the police on a few new cases.

“In recent days, we have received a few complaints from people claiming to be harassed by executives of lending application companies. Preliminary investigation of the cases indicated that the servers and main operations are located in Nepal and the Philippines,” said a cyber crime official from Hyderabad.

A year and a half ago, following a series of incidents that ended the lives of at least six borrowers due to harassment by executives of loan application companies, the State Police of Telangana launched a campaign of repression. In Hyderabad alone, around 50 cases have been booked while an equal number have been booked in other districts. The teams had in fact raided call centers set up by loan application companies in Gurgaon, Bengaluru, Delhi and Hyderabad.

Police arrested around 100 people, including Chinese nationals. A few of the main suspects, however, managed to leave the country before the police could arrest them.

Police in Hyderabad, Rachakonda and Cyberabad had frozen bank accounts where huge sums amounting to several crores were deposited. Also in March this year, police arrested two people who operated a call center in Bangalore with around 100 people and provided short-term loans.

Explaining the modus operandi, Co-Commissioner of Police (Detective Department) Gajarao Bhupal said the suspects were hosting loan apps on Google Play Store. “Whenever people download the apps, the scammers get permission to access the gallery, contact list and locations before granting loans. If the borrower does not repay, all forms of harassment begin,” he said.

Police also noted that app profits from lending app fraud were sent via cryptocurrency to different accounts believed to be held by foreign nationals. Police in Hyderabad, Rachakonda and Cyberabad have filed indictments in the cases and the cases are currently on trial.

Now it looks like the app companies are back in business, prompting police to issue a notice, asking people to stay away from instant loan apps and naming at least 130 apps.

“It is a well-organized network involving millions of rupees. So if a handful of people are arrested, the main people staying in other parts of the world will resume the activity by collaborating with other local people in India” , another police official said.

Police are writing to the Google Play Store asking it to immediately remove instant loan apps from its platform to avoid harassment of borrowers.

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