Fake loan app scam: Andhra Pradesh police arrest 3 Malaysians from Chennai airport

Fake loan app scam: Andhra Pradesh police arrest 3 Malaysians from Chennai airport

By Abdul Basheer: The Andhra Pradesh police have unearthed a loan app scam and arrested three foreign nationals. The foreign nationals were picked up from Chennai airport and brought to Andhra Pradesh.

The accused, hailing from Malaysia, have been identified as Yong Lui Xing, Choo Kai Lun, Thiagarajan Kasi. The accused have been booked under sections 306, 504, 509, 384, 386 r/w 34 IPC and Section 67 of the IT Act.

This is the first time that foreign nationals have been arrested in a loan app racket. More than a thousand people in India fall prey to these loan and gaming apps on a daily basis and lose their hard-earned money. In extreme cases, a few end up taking their own lives.

The accused were found to be operating out of Malaysia and Vietnam with the help of agents in India. The arrested accused, along with their accomplices, targeted victims in eight other countries, including Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Thailand. Further investigation would reveal the nexus behind these fake loan apps and their extent of operation.

The racket was unearthed by the Andhra Police based on a case of extortion and abetment to suicide filed by the kin of the deceased in East Godavari district. The victim had taken a loan of Rs 10,000 from a fake loan app, and ended up paying the amount many times.

The victim was threatened by the app agents by sending him his morphed images. They also threatened to circulate the photos among his contacts. Following the threats, the victim died by suicide on May 5. As a part of the investigation, Andhra police had also taken an agent into custody. The agency from Andhra Pradesh was providing bank accounts with which they were making transactions of more than Rs 1 crore every day. (Many such accounts were frozen during investigation of such cases by police across the country as a part of the investigation).

To nab the accused based outside of India, Andhra police interacted with the accused for over 20 days posing as an agent and lured them to bring them back to India. The three accused Malaysian nationals who arrived in Chennai were picked up by the police team deputed for the task.

Police will be producing the three accused before the magistrate and seek police custody for further investigation and interrogation.

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MODUS OPERANDI OF LOAN APP SCAM

The accused created and ran loan apps and gaming apps from Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China. They developed free apps for gaming , which promised high returns or loans and targeted victims by providing them with small loan amounts at lower interest rates without any guarantee.

Once a person took loan from these apps, his/her contacts and images could be accessed by the app developers. They began to extort money from the victims by threatening them that they’ll circulate morphed images and videos of the victims to their contacts and post it on social media.

While a few paid the amount demanded by the agents, some committed suicide because of these threats, out of fear.

Through investigation, it has been revealed that they carried out transactions of over Rs 1 crore per day through these apps via agents.

The mobile applications that were being operated by the agents provided them with multiple Indian savings and current accounts that amounted to Rs 50 crore per month.

The money collected daily by illegal means was either converted into crypto-currency or transferred abroad through Hawala or through corporate accounts.

These agents and the financial operators discussed via Telegram, we chat or Whatsapp, because of which most of the agents never knew the identity of the main accused with whom they were transacting.

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