A deeper understanding of loan application rackets

Mumbai: Cops say borrowers harassed despite paying loans on time

Police officials said the first step in the racketeering was to bombard the internet with hundreds of advertisements for the apps to ensure maximum visibility. Once that’s done, social media algorithms and surfing platforms do the rest.

A cybercrime official said: “Your mobile phone is constantly recording your browsing habits and uses this data to show you relevant information. For example, if you frequently search the Internet for food, you’ll start seeing targeted ads for restaurants and relevant food delivery services near you. Even your browser will display food-related news articles.

He said that similarly, if one searches for options offering unsecured loans, the browser and social media will display advertisements for the loan apps. This is usually the beginning of the descent into the murky world of loan applications.

Those who are desperate for a quick financial solution finally install such an app. This is where the first pitfall lies. As soon as the app is installed, it asks for a variety of permissions which must be granted by the user.

It’s important to remember that the user controls the permissions they grant; and most apps do not complete the installation process unless all permissions are granted. This includes access to the victim’s basic profile, text messages and contact list.

Ideally, an app that facilitates easy lending doesn’t need to access your messages or contacts, but that’s a fact that many people don’t know and will cause users great distress in the near future. coming.

As users are in urgent need of money, they do not hesitate to grant these permissions. The user then needs to apply for a loan, which involves submitting a photograph, copies of PAN and Aadhaar cards, bank details and contact details.

They are then contacted by representatives of the application and given a fluent and well-rehearsed speech. The loan amount is decided and, as promised, dispersed within minutes at a predetermined interest rate.

In most cases, clients repay their loans on time and in accordance with the easy monthly installments (EMI) decided in the agreement.

However, even after the loans are repaid, the enforcement executives keep calling saying the repayment is not reflected in their records and demand the same amount over and over again.

This is where the bullying begins. “The first pattern that was observed was texting the complainant’s contacts harassing them about the complainant’s outstanding loan,” an officer said.

Over time, however, the harassment grew bolder and more obscure. Recovery agents began transforming plaintiffs’ photographs into obscene content using a technique called deep-fake creation.

Deep fakes are convincing images created using artificial intelligence, which read the victim’s facial features and predict their expressions, often accurately, in certain situations.

The latest trend, however, seen is of loan application agents sending morphed photos of their previous victims to their new targets in order to scare them into paying.

What worries the cybersecurity and law enforcement community, however, is that this is only the beginning, as the internet and technology continue to offer more ways to abuse victims.

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