Mumbai: Cops catch 6, dig up mega loan app racket with links to China and Nepal | Bombay News

MUMBAI: With the arrest of six people, the government railway police (GRP) claim to have foiled a loan application scam with links to China and Nepal and ran into several crores. Two of the defendants – a father-son duo from Delhi – controlled the scam’s operations in India and received a monthly “salary” of Rs 50,000. Further arrests are likely.
The case dates back to March where a young woman was targeted by the gang. Her cousin received images where the woman’s face had been transformed into pornographic content. The images were accompanied by texts from an unknown sender stating that the woman had failed to repay a loan. Disturbed, her cousin approaches the GRP Andheri and one case of indecent assault was recorded. The sender’s phone number was located in Karnataka. It was used by a 19 year old who worked as a recovery agent and earned a commission. After his arrest, the GRP formed a special team to investigate the scam.

Following a trail of clues, police picked up Sartaj Alam, a 45-year-old clothing trader from Delhi, and his son, Shoeb Alam, 25. Documents relating to the bank account of the loan application company from which the woman had applied for a loan online were found with the Alams. “Sartaj had partnered with people from different parts of the country responsible for creating fake loan application companies, existing only on paper and having no offices or employees. These people took the help of accountants chartered and company secretaries for labor,” said Chief Inspector Dattatreya Nikam, Andheri GRP. Three of these individuals, Goraksh Rakh, Pushkar Panse and Rakesh S, were arrested in Pune.

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Loan app scams targeting thousands of unsuspecting citizens, who have already suffered financially during the pandemic, must be thoroughly investigated and the masterminds brought to India from their overseas hideouts. The latest arrests by the GRP clearly show that the scams are being carried out from countries like China and Nepal and that their foot soldiers in India are well paid. Online platforms must also act responsibly and ensure that lending apps are not available for downloads.

While creating a fake lending app company, these people would also open a bank account in the name of the company and buy SIM cards in order to link mobile phone numbers to bank accounts. The Sim cards were then given to Sartaj and Shoeb. “Money for the disbursement of the loans was deposited in the bank accounts of these companies from abroad. Similarly, the money forcibly recovered from the victims was also sent abroad. Sartaj and Shoeb managed bank account transactions from India,” an investigator said. An analysis showed that transactions of up to Rs 106 crore were made from the bank accounts that the defendants operated in India.
Once an unsuspecting applicant applied for a loan and shared their identity documents, all of their cell phone pictures, contacts and other private data were captured by the loan application company. This data was then used to blackmail the plaintiff into paying far more than he had borrowed by transforming his images with pornographic content.
“Sartaj was in contact with his helpers abroad through messaging apps like Telegram. We seized laptops, mobile phones, USB drives, routers and hard drives collectively worth Rs 4 lakh of all defendants,” the officer said. Police said Sartaj used to work in China in the past and spoke seven languages.

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