Loan application scam: cyber probe encounters obstacle in Nepal
Investigators focus on broadband operator in Kathmandu behind harassment of Indian borrowers; mid-day visiting location, but staff refuse to cooperate
Oasis Broadband has its office on the 5th floor of this building in Kathmandu
Weeks after this correspondent took out loans from digital lending apps to dig deep into their unethical methods, Midday crossed the border – to Kathmandu – to find out more about the calls made to a city girl from Nepal. Two mobile phone numbers linked to the calls had emerged during the investigation into the suicide of the woman being stalked by loan wolves. City cops said there is not much they can do at this point as it involves a different country.
Based on the 5th floor of Tamrakar House in the heart of Nepal’s capital, Oasis Broadband Internet Pvt. ltd. is a popular name locally and provides internet to around 60% of the region. midday spoke to staff with the help of an interpreter. This log shared the IP addresses of WiFi routers used by recovery agents and asked for more details about their owners.
Oasis Broadband staff did not cooperate
Investigations by Mumbai cyber cops showed that loan apps engaged people across India and Nepal to threaten borrowers with coughing up money. The highly invasive apps gain full access to the borrower’s phone, after which their agents transform customers’ personal photos to blackmail them.
Despite much pressure, Oasis Broadband staff refused to release details about router users. Mumbai police said their investigation was at an impasse as the service provider is based in Nepal and they needed the help of the CBI’s Interpol wing to go further. Oasis Broadband first came to the attention of Navghar police after they began investing in the suicide of the woman, a Dongri resident, on March 16.
They filed a complaint against three loan applications and 13 people for harassing the woman. They had threatened her to send obscene photos and videos to her family and relatives. In three suicide notes, the woman recounted her ordeal and shared the recovery worker’s mobile numbers 13-14. His call data record generated two numbers from Nepal.
GRP also finds a connection to Nepal
In a case recorded by the Andheri Government Railway Police, the investigation also revealed calls made over the internet provided by Oasis Broadband. The GRP had made the first breakthrough in the loan application scam by arresting a 19-year-old from Karnataka. This came after Midday released a series of reports exposing the crimes committed by numerous digital lenders.