The Loan Application Trap – The New Indian Express

Express press service

KOZHIKODE: Cash-strapped, Rohith (name changed), from Kozhikode, borrowed 10,000 rupees from a Chinese app-based lender for six days in April last year. He had to repay Rs 21,000, including interest. For some reason he delayed payment for a day. To his horror, he realized that the loan company had accessed all of his personal data, including his phone gallery files, contacts, and information on the social media sites he used. Not only that, he was also publicly and personally threatened.

Hundreds of people like Rohith have fallen prey to such apps which offer loans to users. While some victims have come forward and revealed their fate, some have taken their own lives after being defamed. There were also those who gave in to corporate demands and paid the exorbitant sums with no questions asked. several people came forward and filed complaints with the police Cyber ​​Cell. This prompted the ministry to launch a detailed investigation.

“Many of these apps are not registered with the RBI and are illegally hosting the show in the country. During our investigation, we found out that there are hundreds of such apps on Google Playstore and some million people have downloaded them,” Cyber ​​Cell officials said.

Shyam Prasad, a Cyber ​​Cell consultant, said the investigation by Hyderabad Cyber ​​Cell revealed that these online lending apps had overseas connections and deployed dummy administrators in India. “These apps seem to be mostly run by Chinese nationals. It was after the revelation of the color prediction game apps scam that the ties between Indian companies and foreign companies, mainly in China and Indonesia, have come to light. Our company has received several requests from people who have found themselves trapped by such apps,” he said.

He said that by trusting these apps, the user unwittingly gives access to all their documents and personal details to the company. These details are then used to threaten the user, he said. “Following cyberdecency and being aware of these cybercrimes are the best ways to avoid falling victim to such apps,” Shyam said. After several cases were recorded in cyber cells across the state, the Crime Directorate was tasked by the state’s Chief of Police, Loknath Behera, to investigate these online loan frauds.

A high-tech crime investigation unit was deployed to assist the police in the investigation and it was also decided to call in police from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as they have already arrested several people, including foreigners, directly involved in the fraud.

Gambling – instant login to loan app
Online gambling has exploded during the Covid-induced lockdown. However, this soon turned out to be a death trap for many. One of them was Kattakada native VH Vineeth who took his own life after losing 21 lakh in an online rummy game.

A recent fraud committed by a government staff member also exposed the links to online gambling. Mr Bijulal, Senior Accountant at Vanchiyoor Sub-Treasury in Thiruvananthapuram, was suspended for transferring `2 crore into his account using the username and password of a retired treasury officer some time ago. a few months old. When questioned, he admitted to using the money for online gambling – which had become his hobby during lockdown – since April 2020.

The app asks users to deposit money into a built-in “wallet”. However, the money starts to disappear as the game progresses. Claims from the companies running the apps that more than 30 million people play the game daily also boost user confidence and encourage them to deposit more money in the wallet.

“When players start losing money, messages of instant loan apps pop up, prompting many to try them out to get money and keep up the pace of their game. Eventually, users fall prey to both fraud,” said Sachin G, from Chelavur in Kozhikode, who narrowly escaped the trap. “The moment I realized the money in my account was starting to disappear, I took a break from the app,” Sachin said.

How to spot fraud
“Several messages offering part-time jobs are circulating on WhatsApp. The language and phrases used therein may not be consistent. When we see it, we have to realize that the messages are not from a trusted source. They will be named after famous companies. Make sure the links are genuine before clicking. It is better to ignore these messages. A complaint can also be filed with the nearest police or cyber police station,” Ramachandran said.

Whatsapp scam “Make money from home”
When the pandemic cut their jobs, many people had to search for jobs on social media. That’s when a new WhatsApp scam started targeting these people. “Use your phones to earn up to J3,000 by spending just 10-30 minutes a day,” says one such message that regularly makes the rounds on WhatsApp. “Several unsuspecting users who lost their jobs fell victim to this scam,” said Ramachandran N, a senior officer of Cyber ​​Cell, Kozhikode.

“Users are offered 3,000J if they work from home for 30 minutes. The message is accompanied by a link. However, any user who clicks on the link loses valuable data, contacts, and money. Fraudsters can get users’ bank details and users can log out of WhatsApp,” he said. Kerala Police cyber experts claim that several youngsters and housewives fell prey to the scam. Although WhatsApp has taken several security measures to prevent online fraud, fraudsters are finding new ways to outsmart the platform.

Although the Betting and Gaming Act 1960 prohibits online gambling, the apps are misusing a statement from SC which states that a game which requires skill and intelligence does not come within the scope of the jurisdiction of the law.

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