Harassment of TMKOC writer’s family by lending app companies continues even after his death

Nearly two months after the death of a soap opera author suicide due to alleged bullying by loan sharks on mobile apps, his family received threats about loans he either never took or repaid in full.

Charkop Police have now registered an FIR in the case and are investigating the matter.

Writer Abhishek Makwana, 37, who was once associated with popular TV show Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, was found hanging from a ceiling fan in his flat in Kandivali on November 27 last year.

The brother of the deceased, Jenis Makwana, in a complaint filed with Charkop police, said instant loan application officers were now harassing and threatening his family members and friends for repayment of the loans.

After Makwana’s death, his family alleged that he died by suicide due to constant harassment and blackmail by the recovery agents of these mobile loan apps, and that they stole information from his phones and used now this data to threaten his loved ones. and friends.

In his FIR, Jenis said that after Makwana died, he received a call from someone on his brother’s phone. The caller asked for Makwana, he said. Jenis told the caller that her brother had died, but the caller became abusive and said he was calling about the loan Makwana had given them and was not repaying. Jenis then asked the caller for the details of the loan and the address of his office. The caller refused to provide details and continued to abuse him. He also threatened to kill him and his family if they did not repay the loan.

Jenis got scared and he disconnected the call. Later, he started to receive a deluge of calls from several unknown numbers. The callers posed as agents of various easy loan applications and demanded repayment of the loans his brother had allegedly taken out to them. Jenis, who said he was unaware of his brother’s financial dealings, urged them to give him some time to figure out the issue, but the callers didn’t listen, FIR said.

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Soon, other family members, relatives and Makwana’s friends also started receiving abusive and threatening calls. This continued until the first week of January.

On January 2, Jenis checked Makwana’s emails for clues to his financial dealings. He found that in a single day, Makwana had received around 40 to 45 small loans from different app-based applications – loans he had never requested.

According to Jenis, he learned that his brother did take out loans but they were small amounts and he paid them back. However, several loan amounts were transferred to his bank account without his request.

“I learned that by taking the first loan, Abhishek [Makwana] had downloaded an app and applied for the credit, providing lots of personal information. They stole this data and then misused it, transferring money to my brother’s account without his asking. The email also shows that Abhishek had returned the money which was transferred to his account but was still being harassed,” Jenis said.

Loan collectors had continually threatened and blackmailed him into paying back or they would shame him by contacting his family, relatives and friends. “It forced Abhishek to kill himself,” Jenis said.

Jenis, in a video released on January 16, urged the public not to borrow money from these apps. “I want to make sure that nobody loses their brother, nobody loses their sister, their father, their mother and their friends, because of this inhuman business of lending money and harassing them.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2P38yzvaZTA

Charkop Police have registered an FIR in the case and are investigating the matter further. “We have registered an FIR under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code for Cheating, Criminal Intimidation and Intentional Insult as well as sections of the Information Technology Act. We are trying to determine if these loan application companies meet the legal requirements to conduct money lending activities,” said a police officer investigating the case.

The death trap

Cybersecurity expert Ritesh Bhatia says people are falling prey loan applications because it’s a simple way to get credit instantly. “They are unaware of the harassment and blackmail they might face once trapped,” he said. These instant loan apps charge huge processing fees and interest rates of up to 30% or even more. After shelling out so much for credit, customers are being bullied and cyberbullied by these loan companies, he said.

Nowhere do the app’s policies mention that if the victim does not pay on time, their friends or family will be contacted, Bhatia said.

Also, he said, accessing someone’s personal data over the phone is not necessary to process a loan.

RBI Disclaimer

The RBI had recently warned against such loans and asked aggrieved borrowers to file complaints on its portal.

“There have been reports of individuals/small businesses falling prey to an increasing number of unauthorized digital lending platforms/mobile apps on the promise of getting loans quickly and hassle-free. These reports also refer to excessive interest rates and additional hidden fees charged to borrowers, the adoption of unacceptable and overbearing recovery methods, and the misuse of agreements to access data on borrowers’ mobile phones the RBI said in a statement.

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