Chinese national, Haryana man held for extorting loan app users

Duo accused of siphoning off ₹150 crore; police say they charged exorbitant interest rates and extorted users of these apps by threatening them with their morphed nude pictures; network spread across country, 22 arrests were made earlier

November 10, 2022 01:16 am | Updated 01:21 am IST - New Delhi

The Delhi Police Cyber Cell has arrested two persons, including a Chinese national, in connection with extortion through instant loan apps, officers said on Wednesday.

The accused Yu Zhang, a 52-year-old Chinese citizen, and Vineet Jhaver, 38, a resident of Haryana, have siphoned off ₹150 crore into their accounts, the police said.

Officers said several users of Chinese instant loan apps had complained of being charged exorbitant interest rates and extorted by gangs who threatened them with their morphed nude pictures if they refused to pay.

An official said the complaints were analysed and over 100 such apps were found to be involved in the racket. These apps had access to users’ personal data such as contacts, chats and images, which were being uploaded to servers in India and abroad, mainly China.

Explaining the modus operandi, the police said a person in instant need of a small loan downloads such an app on his/her phone and grants it permission to access the phone data after uploading details such as Aadhaar card, PAN card and a live photograph. The loan is disbursed within minutes to the person’s bank account. Their data, however, is shared with various modules of the gangs. The users begin receiving calls demanding payment and are threatened with their morphed and obscene images. In some cases, people in need of as low as ₹5,000-10,000 were being forced to pay lakhs of rupees in interest.

The money trail revealed that multiple mule accounts were used to launder the extortion money, with huge amounts found to be credited daily in each of the accounts, the police said.

“The network is spread across Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and other parts of the country. Earlier, 22 people had been arrested. The mastermind in the present case is a Chinese national. She and her associate have been arrested,” said DCP (IFSO) Prashant Gautam.

During interrogation, the accused revealed that they were operating at the behest of other Chinese nationals. Analysis of the apps also revealed that some were uploaded from in China, the DCP added.

Other Chinese nationals involved are being identified and efforts are being made to arrest them.

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