Chennai cybercrime wing uncovers loan application fraud

Police said the gang, which hosted multiple apps, earned ₹1 crore per day

Police said the gang, which hosted multiple apps, earned ₹1 crore per day

The Cyber ​​Crime wing of Central Crime Branch (CCB) uncovered a loan application fraud involving a Uttar Pradesh gang that ran a software company and hosted numerous loan applications. The gang earned ₹1 crore per day.

Following complaints of harassment and extortion by credit operators, the police opened an investigation. Police Commissioner Shankar Jiwal said on Friday that a special team had been formed to investigate the frauds. The team analyzed WhatsApp call recordings from 900 cell phones suspected of being used by illegal operators, mobile apps on Google Playstore, text messages and 200 UPI (Unified Payments Interface) identifiers.

The investigation led to a mobile phone number, used by a suspect in Maharajganj in Uttar Pradesh. Police first arrested Deepak Kumar Pandey, 26, a debt collector in Uttar Pradesh. Based on his confession, another team was sent to Gurgaon where Jitender Tanwar, 24, Nisha alias Nithi and Prakash Sharma, 21, were arrested at a call center operated by the gang. The main defendant is suspected of being entrenched in Bihar.

The gang had targeted gullible victims by calling them randomly and offering them quick online loans through mobile apps. Once the victim downloaded the apps on the mobile phone, the scammers got access to all the storage including the contacts on the targeted victim’s mobile phone. These digital scammers have extorted money for interest and EMI repeatedly from the borrower. They abused and threatened to send obscene and harmful content to people in the contact list. In some cases, the gang had even sent such messages.

The commissioner said the gang used more than 50 loan applications to commit the fraud. He had a software team to create such applications. A team of 47 people turned out to be involved as collection agents.

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

Mr Jiwal said the gang earned ₹1 crore per day. “Our investigation revealed that over 45,000 people have been deceived by the gang. A few members of the public opened real digital bank accounts and UPIs and handed them over to the scammers for ₹20,000 each. The gang used these accounts either directly or through UPI to debit the amount,” he said.

The commissioner called on people to check if the lender is registered with the RBI and verify their credentials such as registration number and status on the RBI website before borrowing from a digital loan application. Police had written to Google to block shady lending apps and some of those apps were blocked, he added.

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