Mumbai: As a part of cyber awareness, the Mumbai Police through their social media is alerting the citizens to be wary of ‘Instant Loan’ mobile applications. The cases of people falling prey to such loan apps have constantly increased.
“These instant loan apps provide instant money. When one needs money, they don’t think twice or even once for that matter. All that’s important is getting money on hand to fulfill the need. And this is when fake loan apps and fraudsters come into the picture and misuse victims’ vulnerabilities. With little too basic documentation, these scammers provide money only to turn around and harass them later,” explained a senior police official in the cyber team.
Mumbai Police, in their campaign to make people aware of this situation, are conducting several seminars and programs in different places including schools, colleges, workspaces, and even in public areas. Even after that, the cases are on the rise.
“The cases are on the rise, it is true, but it is also a fact that now people are coming out to register their complaints with us (police) unlike earlier when they kept the matter to themselves due to embarrassment,” explained the officer.
The “embarrassment factor” is the root cause of people refraining from coming forward. Contrary to the traditional type of loan scams where victims were harassed using violence when it comes to loans through mobile applications, scammers tend to hold the private data of their victims. This includes contact numbers, personal databases, images, videos – basically everything that is present in your mobile phone or smartphone.
Through the said campaign by the police they said, “Downloading and using instant loan apps will make you regret it – in an instant. Think before you allow them access to your phone,” with a tag #ThosaSochle, which means “Think a little bit.”
In a recent statistical report provided by the Mumbai Police, it said that last year 42 cases were registered of loan fraud while this year the figure has jumped to 96 cases (registered till last month).
“They give the money to the victims then exorbitantly increase the interest rate or even tweak the repayment date. If one does not adhere to their request, the harassment begins. Since they hold pictures and personal data with them, they will use that against you (the victim). This is in the form of morphed pictures of the victims, which they will send to everyone in your contact list, that makes the victim vulnerable enough to give in to their demands,” explained another officer.
Reportedly, these apps charge customers as much as 500% interest rates. Recently RBI found out that more than 1100 digital loan apps were operating illegally and were also available in mobile application stores.
Voices of victims
“I had a need for money for my mother’s operation. Getting a loan from banks was not possible as it’s a huge process, and I did not have a job at that time either. I was clueless and came across an advertisement about an instant loan app, with no documentation and even minimum interest. I decided to give it a chance and downloaded the app named “Rummy Luck’ and they instantly gave me 2 lakhs.
"The date of repayment was almost after 6 months but within a couple of weeks, I started getting back-to-back calls from various numbers. When I ignored the calls for some time my friends and other people in my contacts started receiving calls and even some of my pictures on their WhatsApp. I did not have anyone to confide in, so I kept it to myself and requested more time. I managed to collect money and returned the money – more than I had received.” – Victim
“My father had downloaded one such app because we were short of money for my college admission. Surprisingly and suspiciously enough we received the money (Rs 15 lakhs) in our account. They were very decent people, spoke very warmly, explained the entire process to us, and gave us the money. After my admission process was complete, I moved to another state.
"For the longest time, my parents did not inform me but I got to know that they were calling my parents and asking to repay the amount with an interest rate that was almost 100 times higher than what the deal was. They used to verbally abuse them, even send messages on WhatsApp, while threatening them with death – which is why my parents never informed me, for my safety.
"Later, he (his father) borrowed money from family and friends to return but we never approached the police because they were conscious of what people would think. Eventually, the app had gone from PlayStore, it was nowhere to be found. Horrific experience.” – Victim
Big racket busted!
In July, Mumbai Police busted an illegal loan app racket where 14 accused across India were arrested for 200 plus fraudulent online Instant Loan Apps. During this, they managed to freeze 36- bank accounts with Rs 14 crore and 2.17 lakh USDT (Crypto), 211 SIM Cards, 39 mobiles and 19 Laptops.