Loan app fraud busted, four held for extorting many using bogus call centre
Police said the suspects had set up an illegal call centre to call victims and extort money from them, threatening to reveal their liabilities to their friends, family and colleagues -- all the usual trappings of a typical mobile phone app loan fraud.
Gurugram: A bogus call centre that allegedly extorted money from people on the pretext of recovering loans obtained through instant loan disbursal mobile applications was busted and four persons including a woman were arrested between Friday and Saturday, said police.
Gurugram police said that they had received several complaints against the suspects. Based on preliminary investigation and a tip-off, the investigators had mounted technical surveillance. Following this, a raid was conducted and one of the suspects was nabbed on Friday. They added that based on the information provided by the first suspect and details gathered through surveillance three more arrested on Saturday.
Police said the suspects had set up an illegal call centre to call victims and extort money from them, threatening to reveal their liabilities to their friends, family and colleagues -- all the usual trappings of a typical mobile phone app loan fraud. It is one of the many such scams and illegal call centres that the Gurugram police have busted in the recent past.
In March, 38 persons were arrested from Udyog Vihar after police received more than 50 complaints against them.
In April, the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) working group found 600 illegal lending apps, which included 27, which were banned. With rising instances of digital fraud, the central bank is taking a relook at the ‘know your customer’ (KYC) norms to identify inadequacies and fill the gaps. In 2020, about 60.2 per cent of the cybercrime cases registered were related to fraud—30,142 out of 50,035 cases, according to the latest data from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
Police said a case under sections 384 (extortion), 420 (cheating), 120 B (conspiracy) and 465 (forgery) of Indian Penal Code and sections 66, 66B, 67 and 67A of Information Technology Act was registered in Cyber East police station on Saturday, said police.
Kala Ramachandran, Gurugram police commissioner, said that suspects were running call centres in Gurugram and Noida. “ Their modus operandi was to dupe people on the pretext of offering small amount of loan to needy persons and then they used to recover money several times the money lent by charging a very high rate of Interest. They also charged processing fee and used to harass not only the victim but also their family, friends and relatives by using abusive and threatening language. The suspects also used to send obscene, vulgar messages and used to morph pictures of the victims and send it to their family, friends and relatives to return the loan before the due date,” she said.
“They registered their company by fraudulent means by appointing dummy directors and were running the illegal call centre in its garb,” she said, and added that the investigation was ongoing and more suspects might be arrested who are related to the scam.
The suspects were identified as Deepak, Sakshi Mehta, Ankit Kumar and Divyansh Kumar. They were operating from Palam Vihar area, said police.
Police said the call centre had hired people and they were trained to dupe people, with each one of them getting a 25% cut from the money extorted on the pretext of recovering loans. They are also trained in morphing pictures, said police.
The police have received several complaints on how the victims, who had taken loans from 35 apps were being blackmailed into paying up after their morphed nude photographs are sent to them or their relatives on WhatsApp.
Ramachandran said the gang was active in Gurugram since July 2021. “They have disbursed micro-loans to around one lakh people across India. They started their operations from Udyog Vihar Phase 5 and later shifted to Udyog Vihar Phase 4. The company started its operation by tying up with a private finance firm which was raided by ED in Maharashtra. Then, they tied up with an investment and non banking trading company in Delhi. The accused have been sent to three days police remand. Their head of operations is a Singapore-based Chinese person identified as Tay Zester, “ she said.
The woman arrested was fluent in Chinese as she had studies in China for her masters and was there for two years.
Police said at least 65 employees each were hired by the company for their centres in Noida and Gurugram.