Members of a gang of four persons led by a Class VIII dropout, who allegedly ran one of the largest cyber rackets in the country in terms of the number of victims, were recently arrested by Mumbai Cyber Police from Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The police suspect over 2 lakh persons across the country may have been cheated by the accused in the form of ‘loan processing fees’.
The gang leader, Sanjeev Kumar Singh (36) – who has in the past unsuccessfully contested assembly elections from UP – allegedly created nearly 11 loan apps, along with engineers and app developers, in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The racketeers offered loans and cheated victims by taking ‘loan processing fees’ from them, said police.
DCP (cyber) Rashmi Karandikar said that their social analysis team came across links to apps such as Pradhan Mantri Yojana Loan and Mudra Loan on social media platforms, which claimed to offer loans. Apart from apps, the accused had also set up a website and victims had to fill in their details, following which they would receive a call from two call centres set up by the accused in Jaipur and UP.
“The accused would ask them to pay anything between Rs 5,000 and Rs 25,000 as loan processing fee. Since the amount in individual cases was not that big, many victims did not report it or thought their loan application was not accepted. However, we have found that there were 2.5 lakh downloads of these nine apps alone, in addition to those who may have registered on their website,” said Karandikar.
“The accused had also given advertisements for these loans in two newspapers. They spent nearly Rs 30 lakh in advertising these fake loan apps in newspapers and social media to attract more people from across the country,” said Karandikar.
The police team has found 25 e-wallets and bank accounts through which the fraudulently-made money was routed. The accused masked their identities and opened these bank accounts creating fake documents, said police.
Another victim of this scam was a Pune-based youngster, whose mobile number had been mentioned in the app created by the accused. Some of the victims, who did not hear from the accused, started calling up the number of the youngster and threatening him to return their money. The youngster is the complainant in the FIR that the cyber police have registered in the case.
The four accused were produced before a court and have been remanded to police custody.