MUMBAI: Five operators-cum-agents of a money lending app were arrested by Cyber Crime sleuths in India’s Maharashtra state on Monday on charges of extortion attempt from a Mumbai resident, according to media reports.
The Mumbai resident had taken a loan of Rs 11,000 from the ‘Handy Loan’ app but ended up paying them Rs 96,000 in return as the gang continued to harass and threaten him.
According to the report, the lending app agents had threatened the man that they would post his morphed pictures and videos on social media if he did not pay them money.
After having enough of the harassment, the man decided to approach the Cyber Police in Mumbai who lodged a case and started investigation that led them to the owner of a mobile number in Dharwad district of Karnataka.
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This was the mobile number from which the Mumbai resident was getting threatening messages on Whatsapp and the cyber sleuths soon reached the five operators-cum-agents of the lending app, according to the report.
The accused were produced before a local court in Mumbai and have been sent to judicial custody after being booked for cheating and online crimes.
The Maharashtra Cyber Crime officials believe that there are more people working with such unregistered money lending apps who could be related to a bigger network of thugs that harass people in the name of doling out hassle-free and quick loans.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the state of Maharashtra has registered over 2,000 complaints of cyber frauds and online harassment, according to the report.
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Last month, a 38-year-old Mumbai salesman had ended his life allegedly over harassment by agents of an instant online loan app who had circulated his morphed pictures on social media.
India’s top Reserve Bank recently took note of such harassment cases and urged the general public to take caution in dealing with online money lending apps that are not registered with the RBI.
The Reserve Bank said it has a jurisdiction only over firms and institutions that fall under its ambit and has released a list of such lending apps that are registered with it.
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