Fake instant loan app gang that extorted Rs 500 crore busted in Delhi
An active gang of scam artists running a bogus operation of lending loans through fake mobile apps and extorting money using sensitive personal data has been busted by Delhi Police Cyber Cell. After a two-month operation, Delhi police arrested 22 people from New Delhi and other states associated with the gang, which police say was sending all the money to China using cryptocurrency. Also Read – Indian government asks Twitter to help track accounts
Police said the gang transferred over Rs 500 crore using fake apps. According to the police, at least 100 fake loan apps were active as part of the operation, duping people between Rs 2,000 crore and Rs 5,000 crore. In other words, there might be more scammers performing similar extortion operations. The name of these applications is not available, but they have probably been blocked. Also Read – Delhi Police launches trial version of its new mobile app
how it started
Delhi Police said several victims had filed complaints against the gang in person and through the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal and other investigative agencies. They mentioned instant loan apps, through which scammers would disburse loans, extort money from those involved by blackmailing them using their doctored nude photos. Also Read – Delhi Police launch character verification report app
The arrested gang, police said, intended to move their base in Pakistan and other neighboring countries for calling out their targets. Since they were using several fake lending apps, they hid their operations using online servers.
According to KPS Malhotra, DCP of Cyber Crime Unit, Delhi Police, the apps allegedly entice users to get instant loans through various schemes. Once users download these apps from unverified sources, they “would ask permission from users to access their data and steal all their contact details, chats, photos, etc.” He said the apps would send that data to Hong Kong-based servers. Called recovery agents, these gang members would then transform users’ photos and use them to extort money.
People who would accept loans of Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 were threatened using their transformed photos and forced to pay lakhs instead. “Due to society’s fear, the user would pay the money, but the defendant would extort even more,” DCP Malhotra said. There have also been cases of suicide linked to this extortion operation. After analyzing different cases, all applications, detailed call records and financial logs, the Delhi Police Cyber Crime Unit continued the investigation.
Supreet K Shetty, according to the police, is the manager of the gang, while Navneet Kumar Bhati, from Bihar, handles finances. Bhati, who would have studied in China, planned to move the call bases from India to Pakistan and Nepal. According to DCP Malhotra, the bank accounts of each showed credit transactions worth Rs 1 crore per day. Police said they made arrests in extensive raids in Delhi, Haryana, Bihar and Karnataka.