Digital loan fraud by fake apps of NBFCs, including Kerala-based ones, rampant

Over 50 fraudulent loan apps have gotten into the top list in the App Store in the past three weeks. Representative image/Shutterstock

New Delhi: Digital loan frauds in various guises continue unabated despite increasing scrutiny by cyber authorities and repeated alerts by financial institutions.

Now, massive digital loan frauds are being perpetrated through Apple’s App Store by some racketeers using the name of popular non-banking financial institutions (NBFC), including those functioning in Kerala.

'Over 50 fraudulent loan apps have gotten into the top list in the App Store in the past three weeks', a source said. A fake app named “Sun Cash” has been operating through the Apple developer account in the name of Kannatt Fingold Finance Private Limited of Chengannur, according to the source: after there was a sudden rush of app users, Sun Cash rose to 14th place in App Store’s finance section in India; the website of Sun Cash was registered only on July 6.

Although the app was removed on Thursday morning, its website is still functional. Such apps capitalise on the credibility of prominent financial institutions to carry out fraud. It is not clear, the source said, how these rackets cross the hurdle of passing the verification procedure for opening the developer account in the App Store.

Babulal Puniya from Rajasthan, a fintech expert, who is conducting research on the subject, told Malayala Manorama that although many apps are being removed, they reappear under new names and different garbs.

Kannatt Fingold clarified that the institution has nothing to do with Sun Cash. Frauds have also been committed in the name of institutions under the ownership of former students of IIT Bombay.

Method of fraud
If a person registers with the app, Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,500 is credited to the person’s bank account even without his permission.

If a loan of Rs 5,000 is advanced, Rs 2,500 is credited after deducting an equal amount under the guise of different charges. Sometimes, the interest charged is 100% or more.

A person who had taken a loan of Rs 4,700 was made to repay Rs 8,700 within days. Even if one deletes the app, the next loan is sent without the person’s consent. If the money is not repaid, the fraudsters issue threats, including blackmailing messages warning that the person’s nude pictures would be sent to those on his contact list.

Such fake digital loan apps may have migrated to Apple's App Store as Google Play Store conducts stricter scrutiny of loan apps, the source further added.

“Many people have been calling our office, requesting us to approve their loan applications. Later we came to know about the fake app. The popularity of this app on the Apple Store in the past few days points to the need for money among the people. We are trying to make those who call us aware of the situation. We will make a complaint to the Reserve Bank of India," said Allen Kannatt, director of Kannatt Fingold Finance Limited.

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