Published: Published Date – 11:49 PM, Wed – 15 June 22

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Hyderabad: Illegal online loan app companies are turning out to be like weeds in a garden. The more they are plucked and thrown out, the more ways they find to return.

Law enforcement agencies from the State had sent requests to Google to remove illegal instant loan apps from Google Play Store and many were removed too. But these operators, according to the police, are finding newer ways to continue their illegal business.

People are now getting text messages or WhatsApp messages with a link that redirects to an instant loan app. When mobile phone users click on the link, they are directed to an application and asked to download it.

“The rest of the process is similar as it was before. The person applies for a loan and after processing the request, the amount is credited to his account,” an official from the Cybercrime police station here said.

200 apps removed from Play Store

The Telangana Police, following growing instances of instant loan app harassment, had identified around 200 applications and requested Google to remove those from Play Store. Another 200 apps were removed following requests from other law enforcement agencies last year.

However, the companies have found new ways to continue operations. “The new applications are developed in a way that they can be downloaded on the phone if anyone clicks on a link sent through WhatsApp or SMS. The gangs have a database of old customers and randomly acquire new data through third parties,” the official said.

As it is a multi-million business with companies employing hundreds of persons for daily operations, spending a good amount to develop their applications is not a big problem for them, he added. The pattern is observed in new cases being reported at Cybercrime stations across the State.

“It is because of greed and also need of money that people are still continuing to get lured by such messages and later avail loans,” the official said.

Many cases were booked against loan app companies in Telangana after several people ended their lives due to digital shaming by loan recovery executives.

The companies are also taking various precautions to conceal their identity and are not using direct phones. “The recovery executives, instead of doing calls directly, are making WhatsApp calls. The regular phone number is switched off. Moreover, they are not using data on regular phones and are instead using hotspots or WiFi to make phone calls,” the official added.

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