The city has seen a surge in illegal loan apps since the pandemic.
More than 200 FIRs against instant loan scams have been registered in 2022 from the month of January to September. Till August, 70 online loan scams have been registered in the Yeshwantpur cyber crime department (North Division) and almost 150 to 170 in the Shivaji Nagar police station cyber crime department (East Division).
“The fraudsters send text messages for the instant loan and people who are in need of money fall prey and download the apps or click on the link attached along with the message,” said Rama, a woman constable (WPC) of the Cyber Crime Department (North division). She also said that five have been arrested related to the loan application scam and the rest are being investigated.
A victim who wished to stay anonymous said, “There are advertisements of instant loans on Facebook and Twitter that show up with a link on it, and when you click on the link you are directed to the application, after downloading they ask permission for access, then they ask for KYC (Know Your Customer) details.”
He further said, “When the loan gets credited to the account, you realize that the rate of interest is around 20-25 percent, and on the sixth day after receiving the loan, they start sending messages that the due day for payment is on the next day, and it becomes difficult to pay back the entire amount.”
An official from the cyber security cell of Shivaji Nagar police station said, “There are more than 100 such fake apps. If they track them down, fraudsters keep on bringing up more such apps. Some of the apps are Credit Box, Honey Loan, Tiger Rupees, Rupee Box and many more which they keep on creating.”
“Even after paying the loan amount, you will keep getting messages of payment due, that is when you realize it is a trap. When the money asked for is not paid, they start harassing and threatening to share confidential information and edited obscene images with everyone in the contact list as they have access to it,” says the victim.
Anil Rachamalla Founder of the End and Now Foundation said, “ during COVID people faced the shortage of money and wanted a loan to get life going, that is how a financial corporation under the guidance of RBI had allowed association with third-party vendors and these loan apps came to being. Most of the people who had fallen prey to such scams are educated and graduates.”
Constable Shrishail, from the Cyber Crime Department, North division said, “the fraudsters send text messages along with a link, pretending to be an original bank, when people click on the link they are directed to a website that seeks permission for accessing the phone, the victim unknowingly gives access and the fraudsters can mirror the screen and take all the confidential details.”
Other cybercrimes such as debit card/ credit card theft, social media hacking, electricity bill scams, and money doubling, have also been recorded in the past few months in the North and East division police stations in Bengaluru.
Data from the City Crime Records Bureau shows that 2,695 cyber crime cases related to Debit/Credit Card Frauds (Vishing) and online money transfers have been registered from January to August of this year. The 2020 and 2021 numbers were 2,886 and 3,303 respectively.