Chinese national held over loan app racket in Chandigarh

Published on Sep 13, 2022 12:09 AM IST

A Chinese national with a visa that expired two years ago was among 21 people arrested by Chandigarh police’s cyber crime cell on Sunday for running a fraudulent app-based quick loan service that extorted money from dozens of people after threatening them with reputational harm.

The mobile applications that these individuals operated were available on Google’s Play store with the name of Hugo loan, Cashfree, Fly Cash, Cash Coin and AA Loan. The Chinese national was arrested in Chandigarh on Sunday. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The mobile applications that these individuals operated were available on Google’s Play store with the name of Hugo loan, Cashfree, Fly Cash, Cash Coin and AA Loan. The Chinese national was arrested in Chandigarh on Sunday. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
By, Chandigarh

A Chinese national with a visa that expired two years ago was among 21 people arrested by Chandigarh police’s cyber crime cell on Sunday for running a fraudulent app-based quick loan service that extorted money from dozens of people after threatening them with reputational harm.

The police named 34-year-old Chinese national Wan Chengua as the kingpin of a racket that operated a number of instant loan mobile applications. The racket was busted following a 10-day operation spanning five states, including the Delhi-NCR region, Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhand. Most of the arrests took place around the national Capital.

“Wan Chengua is the main kingpin who has been running this well-organised racket through Indian youths who are hired and specially trained,” said Ketan Bansal, superintendent of police, CCIC (cyber crime investigation cell), Chandigarh.

“During the investigation, it came to light that the alleged instant loan application is developed and run by Chinese people on China-based servers. The Chinese then hire unemployed Indian youths on a specific salary for call centre jobs and train them on blackmailing people through online loan applications. These recruited people call the victims and force, blackmail and threaten them to deposit money again and again,” said Bansal.

The mobile applications that these individuals operated were available on Google’s Play store with the name of Hugo loan, Cashfree, Fly Cash, Cash Coin and AA Loan.

While Chengua was allegedly named as the overall kingpin, the India operations were headed by a man named Parwej Alam, who went by the aliases Jitu Bhadana and Sonu Bhadana. “Bhadana, 32, is the main kingpin in India. He has studied till class 10 and managed all domains of all online loan applications i.e Hugo Loan, Cashfree, Fly Cash, Cash coin, AA Loan,” the officer added.

The police recovered Rs. 17.31 lakh that was extorted by the suspects.

On the modus operandi, the police said the victims would be compromised once they installed the loan application on their mobile phone, allowing access to their contact lists, camera and photo gallery. The victim’s who legitimately took a loan would be slapped with high charges, but even those who would not avail of any credit were blackmailed.

The extortion threats would mostly involve sending morphed images and fake claims, including of sexual assault, to the target’s contact lists.

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