Several China-linked fraudulent loan apps removed by Gujarat Police from the Android store between September and December 2022, are back as Android application package or kit (APK) — executable files carrying the app data — on WhatsApp.
The modus operandi involves deduction of processing fees from the loan, combined with penalties, and charging higher rates of interest in cases of delay in payments. Police officials say that instant loan apps charge an annual interest of 36% to 50% and heavy penalties, on a daily basis, for not repaying the loan on time.
“We have spotted this trend on social media. The gangs target gullible victims through local messaging and then share the APK files of the apps to be run on their phones. The file works in the same way as the app and has access to all digital data of the individual,” explained a senior CID (crime) official under conditions of anonymity.
He added that if any harassment by a recovery agent associated with the app must be reported to the police.
“Citizens should be extremely careful of apps willing to give loans without credit history check. Unfortunately, if somebody falls prey to these scams, the only option left for them is to approach the police,” shared inspector Manish Bhankharia, cyber-wing and forensics, CID.
He added: “Some due diligence is required from citizens such as checking if the lender is approved by the RBI or is associated with a financial institution. Check details of their website, physical office location, company identification number (CIN) and details of the certificate of registration (CoR) besides the terms and conditions of lending.”
The Union Home Ministry had earlier written to states and Union territories urging them to take strict action against the offenders in light of the growing threat posed by predatory Chinese loan applications that have resulted in numerous suicide cases in India.
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