Chinese national among 21 in Chandigarh police net for loan app fraud : The Tribune India

Chinese national among 21 in Chandigarh police net for loan app fraud



Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12

Twenty-one members of a gang, including a Chinese national living illegally in India, have been arrested by the Cyber Crime Cell of the UT police for duping people on the pretext of providing them instant loan online and extorting money.

The arrested suspects presented before media by IG RK Singh (2nd from left) in Sector 17, Chandigarh. Photo: Pradeep Tewari

Complainant Arvind Kumar had claimed he had received a link through SMS on his mobile phone for loan. Once he clicked on the link, ‘Hugo Loan’ app got installed and during installation, the complainant gave access to his contacts, gallery, etc.

After filling in his details, the app showed he was eligible for loan worth Rs 3,500. The complainant uninstalled the app, but he subsequently started receiving threat calls from different numbers. The suspects asked him to deposit money or his morphed nude pictures would be sent to all his contacts. Scared, the complainant transferred Rs 2,045 and Rs 3,500 to their account.

Vinit Kumar, another city resident who fell prey to the fraud, alleged he had seen an advertisement on Facebook regarding instant loan through a loan app. On installing the app, he got a loan of Rs 2,700 for few days and returned Rs 5,000. However, the fraudsters started calling him up, asking him to repay the loan.

On being told he had already repaid it, the suspects demanded more money and sent abusive messages and his morphed pictures to his family and friends on WhatsApp.

On receiving the complaints, the police conducted raids in various states, including Delhi, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand and UP, and nabbed 21 suspects from the Delhi NCR area.

The kingpin Parwej Alam, alias Jitu Bhadana, alias Sonu Bhadana, was arrested from Ranchi. Those arrested included 13 agents, who used to make calls to victims from a call centre, and five managers/team leaders, besides Chinese national Wang Cheng and Anshul Kumar, who used to manage extorted money. The Chinese national was found residing illegally in India as his visa had expired in 2020.

During investigation, Rs 17.31 lakh in cash was seized from Cheng and Kumar. Also, nine laptops, 41 mobile phones and a desktop were recovered from the gang members.

Modus operandi

  • Victims received link offering instant loan through SMS or FB. Once clicked, ‘Hugo Loan’ app got installed, giving suspects access to victims’ contacts, gallery
  • Small loan amount was deposited to account. Even if money was repaid, threat calls were made asking for more money or morphed photos would be shared with contacts

Dragon’s ploy?

  • Instant loan applications were developed and run by Chinese nationals, suggests probe
  • They used to target people in India by hiring local staff, offering jobs at call centre
  • Staff were trained in blackmail by issuing victims small loans and making them deposit money repeatedly under duress

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