Mumbai: Schemes made for the betterment and upliftment of citizens of India is being misused by cyber criminals to cheat innocent people. The latest breakthrough by cyber crime team of Mumbai police shows how scammers are cheating investors in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious loan scheme – Pradhan Mantri Loan Yojana.
The Mumbai Cyber Police along with UP’s cyber crime police have arrested four men including a local politician from Uttar Pradesh who were allegedly running one of the country’s largest fake home loan racket. Police estimate that the gang had made over 11 fake loan apps and have duped over 2 lakh people on the pretext of ‘loan processing fees’ and other documentation charges.
Soon after the expose, the Central government also alerted citizens via social media channel about fraud schemes floated online by anti-social elements and criminals.
The mastermind of the gang has been identified as Sanjeev Kumar Singh (36), who has in the past unsuccessfully contested UP assembly elections. His three accomplices have been identified as —Ramnivas Kumawat (25), Pranjal Rathod (27) and Vivek Sharma (42) — who are computer engineers.
The amount of wealth they have amassed by cheating people can be accessed with the fact that the gang cheated over 2.8 lakh people and collected anything between Rs 8,000 to Rs 25,000 depending on the person’s desperation for the loan. During the investigation, it was found that the gang through his engineer associate had created several fake apps and website through which they were reaching their targets.
Mumbai 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 gang used to give advertisements for these loans in leading newspapers. They spent close to Rs 30 lakh in advertising these fake loan apps in newspapers and social media to attract more people from across the country,” said Karandikar.
Explaining the technical hurdled in identifying and tracking the accused, Cybercrime expert Govind Ray, who assisted Mumbai Police in the investigation said, “in such scams, the attackers in a majority of cases, spoof their identity and that eventually makes it difficult for the police to track them down, as the documents summited to the bank and the cellular companies generally turns out to be false. The cellular services and banks need to enhance the KYC verification process as that’s one of the toolkits used by attackers in such cases.”
Ray added that the end-users need to be cautious about the website or application on which they are filling their personal data. And if the government is launching any such application, it would be listed on the official government web portal, hence it is very important to check for the same authenticity of the application or the website before filling in any form or paying any amount.
Team involved in the crackdown involved DCP Rashmi Karandhi, ACP Nitin Jadhav, Sr Police Inspector S Shahashtrabudhe, Assistant Police Inspector Alka Jadhav , Constable Survase and Constable Desai.