A Chinese and an Indian man were arrested today from Thane in Mumbai as part of Telangana Police’s ongoing investigation into the instant loan apps scam.
With this, at least 31 people, including four Chinese nationals, have been arrested in the multi-crore scam suspected to be operated through shell companies that lend small sums against steep interest rates and harass borrowers who fail to repay.
The Telangana police arrested He Jian, alias Mark (26) and Vivek Kumar on the basis of a complaint by a man whose account was credited with an unsolicited loan and was being coerced to pay almost double the principal amount.
The police seized a bank account with Rs 28 crore, and also recovered a Chinese passport, a CITIC Bank Debit Card issued in China, three stamps of firms they were a part of, four laptops, two mobile phones, an iPad, an Apple mini CPU, and a Wi-Fi router.
Wednesday’s action was based on inputs from three others, including a Chinese woman, who were arrested from Pune for running a call centre that acted a service provider to Mumbai-based loan app firms, including those operated by Jian.
“Jian came to India in July 2019 on a business visa. He is a representative of three Chinese nationals — Xu Nan, Xu Xinchang and Zhao Qiao — who are directors of micro finance loan apps companies. They also appointed an Indian director Ankur Singh. Vivek Kumar was an accountant in the firm,” Rachakinda police commissioner Mahesh Bhagwat said.
The police are now looking for Ankur Singh, who left the company in November last year, to understand the complete scale of operations.
Issuing a list of dos and don’ts before taking online loans, the police named 24 apps and said they were also pursuing the matter with the Ministry of Information and Technology.
“Please do not download micro-financing apps without verifying their licenses issued by government authorities, the RBI, or checking their registration address. Additionally, never download any app that seeks access to your contacts, files, photo gallery, etc,” Mr Bhagwat said.
So far, in Telangana alone, at least five people have died by suicide because of coercion after borrowing from instant loan apps. The incidents led the police to investigate the multi-crore, multi-city scam, which is also being looked into by the Enforcement Directorate.