Thiruvananthapuram: Illegal online lending apps have duped Keralites of around Rs 100 crore till now.
According to the cyber crime investigation team of Kerala police, details collected from the complaints it received in the past few years revealed that over Rs 100 crore has been swindled from Kerala through loan apps.
Sleuths have also found that a recruitment agency that hires Malayalis for typist's job in Cambodia plays a crucial role in the scam. The agency recruits Malayalis free of cost, takes them to Cambodia and gives them different tasks connected to loan apps.
The agency lures people through social media and offers them remuneration ranging from Rs 70,000 to Rs 1 lakh per month. An investigation focusing on the mobile number displayed in the advertisement is underway.
According to sources in the probe team, some youths, who managed to escape from Cambodia, alleged that several people were recruited from Kerala for similar work. Complaints have also been received by the team against loan rackets being operated from Chennai and northern parts of India.
According to sources, Kerala is losing huge money everyday through Chinese trading apps that allow people to buy and resell items immediately. Two weeks ago, a housewife in Kochi lost Rs 1 crore after she followed up on a message stating that she had won a lottery.
In another instance, perpetrators hacked the web site of the Income Tax department of Karnataka and emptied crores of rupees from the bank accounts of people who were due to receive income tax refunds. This shady operation was also staged from China.
Threats over loans never taken
The online loan mafia even threatened a housewife from Palakkad's Kollenkode, telling her to repay a loan that she did not take. When she refused to pay the amount, the racketeers circulated her morphed obscene pictures among people in her phone contact list, including her daughter.
The housewife said although she had inquired about the online loans during the COVID crisis, she had not borrowed any loan from them. She had furnished personal details, including that of Aadhaar, to the contact number that was found online.
When the operators demanded a phone number with net connectivity, her daughter’s number was given.
Soon, she started getting calls demanding a repayment of Rs 13,800. Morphed pictures started appearing on her daughter’s phone from August 27. The harassment stopped after a complaint was filed with the Palakkad cyber police.
Interpol’s help sought
The Kerala police will seek the help of Interpol to probe the cyber racket, including loan app frauds.
The international crime investigation agency's help will first be sought in a case where a person lost Rs 1 crore in Kochi through investment in crypto currencies. Kerala police's cyber operations wing had found that the money had gone into 10 Chinese banks. The 10 Chinese nationals who carried out the fraud were also identified.
It has also been found that huge money is being siphoned off to China through loan apps everyday. The perpetrators upload the loan apps on Google Play Store and recruit Indians to make phone calls.
A bank account is also opened in India to facilitate the transactions. As soon as the money reaches this account, it is converted into crypto currency and transferred to China.
The person who spoke in Hindi to the victims of the loan racket in Kochi was a Chinese national. The operators of the apps decide the quantum of loan to be given after assessing the number of contacts on the victim’s phone and friends on Facebook.
In fact, the cyber challenges posed by China was one of the main topics of discussion at the cyber crime conference convened in New Delhi last week.