Andhra Pradesh: Online lending app gangs poured money into cryptocurrency trade, police say

“The operators opened fake accounts in several banks and used them to carry out illegal business transactions”

“The operators opened fake accounts in several banks and used them to carry out illegal business transactions”

Police in Krishna district, which shut down the illegal operations of Maharashtra-based online lending apps, said the fraudsters operated by opening fake accounts in several banks and investing in cryptocurrency trading.

Loan application officers reportedly harassed those who took out loans but failed to repay. They allegedly sent transformed nude photographs, vulgar and insulting messages to defaulters and their relatives.

“Following a complaint, we planned a decoy operation. A police officer deposited money in a bank account belonging to a loan application. The Cybercrime and IT Core team tracked the transactions of the account, which led to Sinnar village in Maharashtra. With the help of local police, we have arrested four people associated with the loan application,” said Police Superintendent P. Joshua Krishna.

The investigation revealed that the gangs were investing in cryptocurrency trading and the apps had ties to other countries. Some bank officers and collection agencies are also under scanner, says the SP.

“The accused opened accounts en masse in several banks. They operated from remote locations and changed phone SIM cards frequently. They hired recovery agents locally in the states where they operated. The defendants were operating from New Delhi, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Haryana and other states,” Mr Joshua said.

Lending app operators were opening accounts at banks with more branches with online banking in some locations. The operators hired professionals to create the applications and transform the photographs of the defaulters.

Police are investigating how loan app operators opened multiple bank accounts by submitting fake credentials and how they managed to obtain bulk phone SIM cards, which debt collectors have used to blackmail defaulters, the SP said.

“The lending app operators were making huge transactions through the fake bank accounts on a daily basis. We are investigating how the transactions went unnoticed by the banking authorities,” Mr Joshua said.

The SP called on people not to download or use such fraudulent loan apps.

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