Chennai Cyber Crime Wing unearths loan app fraud

The police said the gang, which hosted several apps, had been making ₹1 crore per day

September 02, 2022 08:45 pm | Updated September 03, 2022 12:20 am IST - CHENNAI

Commissioner of Police Shankar Jiwal addressing the media in Chennai on Friday.

Commissioner of Police Shankar Jiwal addressing the media in Chennai on Friday. | Photo Credit: K.V. SRINIVASAN

The Cyber Crime Wing of Central Crime Branch (CCB) has unearthed a loan app fraud involving a gang from Uttar Pradesh that ran a software company and hosted numerous loan apps. The gang had been making ₹1 crore a day.

Following complaints on the harassment and extortion by loan operators, the police had taken up investigation. Commissioner of Police Shankar Jiwal on Friday said a special team had been formed to investigate the frauds. The team analysed WhatsApp call records of 900 mobile phones which were suspected to be used by the illegal operators, mobile apps on Google Playstore, SMSes and 200 UPI (Unified Payments Interface) IDs.

The investigation led to a mobile number, used by a suspect in Maharajganj in Uttar Pradesh. First, the police arrested Deepak Kumar Pandey, 26, a collection agent in Uttar Pradesh. Based on his confession, another team was sent to Gurugram where Jitender Tanwar, 24, Nisha alias Nithi and Prakash Sharma, 21, were arrested from a call centre operated by the gang. The main accused is suspected to be holed up in Bihar.

The gang had targeted the gullible victims by calling them randomly and offering quick online loans through mobile apps. Once the victim downloaded the apps on the mobile phone, the fraudsters had access to all storage, including contacts, on the mobile phone of the targeted victim. These digital fraudsters extorted money towards interest and EMIs repeatedly from the borrower. They abused and threatened to send obscene and damaging content to the people in the list of contacts. In some instances, the gang had even sent such messages.

The Commissioner said the gang had used more than 50 loan apps for committing the fraud. It had a software team on its own to create such apps. A team of 47 persons were found to be involved as collection agents.

The gang had set up a software company with team members, team leaders and managers, Mr. Jiwal said. The gang operated with the help of a website that facilitated quick translation of six languages.

Mr. Jiwal said the gang had been making ₹1 crore a day. “Our investigation revealed that over 45,000 people were cheated by the gang. A few members of the public opened genuine digital bank accounts and UPIs and handed them over to the fraudsters for ₹20,000 each. The gang used those accounts directly or through UPI for debiting the amount,” he said.

The Commissioner appealed to the people to verify whether the lender was registered with the RBI and check their credentials such as registration number and status on the RBI website before borrowing from any digital lending app. The police had written to Google to block the shady loan apps and some of the apps were blocked, he added.

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