Misery mounts for cancer-stricken woman as loan racket fleeces her

Malappuram: It seems misfortune never rains but pours on a woman here in north Kerala. Subitha Rajan, a native of Edavanna in Malappuram, has cancer in her spine and lungs. She had to sell her possessions and seek the help of friends for her treatment. Despite this, she reached a stage where she didn’t have money to continue with her cancer treatment. That’s when she took a loan of Rs 10,000 through four loan apps and the misery mounted soon!

The cancer patient had fallen victim to the scam perpetrated by illegal loan apps. She has been having a harrowing time ever since she took the loan to deal with the emergency.

“I had borrowed Rs 10,000 through an online app when I could not afford my cancer treatment and daily expenses,” Subitha said. “I have till now repaid Rs 1.40 lakh in two months. This amount was repaid by using the money that was collected by locals for my cancer treatment and by pledging the jewellery of relatives and friends. Yet, the debt is not over.”

Subitha started receiving threats over phone when she failed to repay the amount. Fearing harassment, she even abandoned the SIM card that she had been using for many years.

Adding to the misery was humiliation resorted to by the racketeers. The scammers obtained all the contact numbers saved on the phone where she had installed the loan app.

“They send messages with my picture to the contact numbers saved on my phone saying I am a fraud. I had to even change my SIM card unable to stand the harassment on phone. Fearing humiliation, I tried to repay the money as fast as I could," she narrated.

Vicious cycle

If you take a loan of Rs 4,000 using the app, you will be paid only Rs 2,800. And the Rs 4,000 has to be repaid in seven days. The only way Subitha could repay the loan was by taking another loan from similar apps. With loans doubling one after another, there was no way to hold on in the end. As she started taking loans from more apps, her debt more than doubled, and she reached a stage where she found it difficult to manage the loans.

Subitha lives in a rented house at Othayi in Edavanna. Her husband Prajeesh's only source of income is from painting work.

Police on alert

Kerala police chief Loknath Behera had last week announced that the Crime Branch would probe the operations of gangs committing frauds by offering loans through mobile apps. The police decided to initiate the probe after some people who took loans by making use of mobile apps killed themselves as they were unable to pay back the money. The loans reported had high interest rates and the loanees failed to repay fully even after taking more loans to pay back.

These notorious apps enable one to get instant cash loan. Though easy access to timely credit is a boon, a slew of recent suicides by young men in some parts of the country are blamed on loan sharks who pestered loanees who had fallen into a debt trap after securing easy finance by way of mobile applications.

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