Delhi Police Special Cell’s Intelligence Fusion & Strategic Operations (IFSO) unit has dismantled various modules of an instant loan application scam (also known as Chinese loan application). The action came after Delhi Police received hundreds of complaints on its NCRP portal about instant loan applications disbursing loans at higher rates and extorting money using transformed nude photos even after the loan payment.
Taking notice, the IFSO began analyzing the complaints and found that over 100 such apps were involved in the loan and extortion racket. In-depth technical analysis revealed that these apps seek malicious permissions from users and upload users’ contacts, chats, messages and pictures to servers based in China and Hong Kong after obtaining access permissions .
The agency also discovered that the money was being funneled into China via Hawala and cryptocurrencies. The applications were hosted from AWS servers and Ali Baba servers hosted in India but are not US company compliant, Special Cell’s press release said.
These apps are hosted on the Google Play Store, on websites and in advertisements, and are marketed using Google’s search engine optimization features. Those in need of small loans are attracted and a small KYC is used to access them. The loan is disbursed to the user within minutes while the app uploads the user’s data to servers in China and other regions.
Users then start receiving calls from different numbers (obtained on fake IDs) which force them to pay more by threatening to use transformed photos. Recovery agents operate out of a call center with access to user data uploaded to Chinese servers.
The extorted money is diverted to specific bank accounts and finally sent to China via Hawala or after buying cryptocurrencies after 2-3 hops. So far, more than Rs 500 Crores have been siphoned off by Chinese nationals, it has been revealed.
Those who come for loans of Rs 5,000 to 10,000 end up paying lakhs. Incidents have also been reported in different parts of the country where citizens are driven to commit suicide.
IFSO discovered that this network extended to Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and other parts of India. 22 people were arrested in simultaneous raids over two months. Police recovered items including 51 mobile phones, 25 hard drives, 9 laptops, 19 debit/credit cards, 3 cars and Rs 4 Lakh in cash.
The defendants operated under the umbrella of Chinese nationals, interrogation revealed. Those arrested include Supreet K Shetty S/o Karunakar Shetty (manager), Mangal Mohan Dhanawade S/o Mohan Dhanawade (manager), Akash Sonkamble S/o Yan Kuran (team leader), Nikhil Yuvraj Kadam S/o Yuvraj kadam (team) Leader), Neha Dongre D/o Dinesh Dongree (HR), Vijay ERL r/o Bangalore, Karnataka (Account Holder), Sheikh Arfatuddin r/o Bangalore, Karnataka (Account User), Navneet Kumar Bharti r/ o Aurangabad, Bihar (Handles Finances), Rohit Kumar r/o Delhi (Account Holder), Vividh r/o Begum Pur, Delhi (Account User), Puneet r/o Pitampura, Delhi (Account User), Manish r/o Budh Vihar, Delhi (Account User), Divya W/o Punnet r/o Delhi (Account User), Ravi Shanakar @ krishna r/o Jodhpur (Handles Finances and Collections), Sumit S/o Sudhir r/o Gurgaon, Haryana (Extortion Caller), Deepak Kumar @ Kartik S/O Ilam Singh r/o Saharanpur, UP (Extortion Group Team Leader), Jitender S/o Dhanshyam Dass r/o Kap Ashera, Delhi (No Whatsapp Provider), Harpreet Singh S/O Kuldeep Singh r/o Uttam Nagar, Delhi (Extortion Group Manager), Pankaj Kumar S/O Hansha Dutt r/o Uttam Nagar, Delhi (Group Manager of extortion), Zuhaib Hassan S/o Riyasat Hasan R/o Lucknow (Manages activities with national Chinese), Deepak Dubey S/o Rama Shankar Dubey R/o Palam (Organizes accounts) and Anil Chahar S/o Sumer Singh R/o Jhajjar (Account Holder).
The modus operandi of the applications was explained by a flowchart. Some apps were involved as follows: Raise cash app, PP money app, Rupees master app, Cash ray app, Mobipocket app, Papa money app, Infinity cash app, Kredit mango app, Kredit marvel app, CB loan app, Cash advance app , HDB Loan App, Cash Tree App, RAW Loan App as well as those in process such as Minute Cash App, Cash Light App, Cash Fish App, HD Credit App, Ruppes Land, Cash Room App, Rupee Loan App, Well Kredit App.
Chinese instant loan apps linked to the Lucknow-based extortion call center included Cash Port, RupeeWay, LoanCube, WowRupee, SmartWallet, GiantWallet, HiRupee, SwiftRupee, Walletwin, Fishclub, Yeahcash, ImLoan, Growtree, MagicBalance, Yocash, FortuneTree and Supercoin.
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(With contributions from Special Cell, Delhi)