Money & Banking

Loan scam via apps: Chinese gang procured 2,000 SIM cards illegally

Chennai | Updated on January 04, 2021

R Sivaraman

The Chinese gang that was involved in operating online loan apps had also procured 2,000 SIM cards using fake Indian identity papers, sources said.

The sleuths of Central Crime Branch, Greater Chennai City Police, intensified its probe into alleged links of arrested Chinese nationals with Indians. After searching for the suspects for nearly 20 days, the special team busted clandestine operations of a call centre, which was run by two Indian nationals in Bengaluru, who claimed to be directors of the firm.

Subsequently, police arrested two Chinese nationals who were behind them, and unearthed the further involvement of Chinese nationals in operating illegal online loan apps that offered cheaper loans and later harassed debtors demanding payment of exorbitant rates of interest. The prime accused Hong was operating from China, while the other two, Xioa Yamao and Wu Yuanlun, were staying in Haralur, Bengaluru. Frequent instructions were passed on from China.

Pandemic a setback

Sources said the prime accused Hong and others came down in January before the onset of the pandemic. They had suffered a setback due to the pandemic situation. They were operating the call centres, engaging locals as telecallers. The call centres were found registered as non-banking finance firms, which are permitted to work in the micro financing sector. The directors of the firms are Indians, but the operations were entirely controlled by these Chinese nationals. The directors were paid by them and telecallers were engaged by the directors. The telecallers were given the target – they should get at least 10 customers; if they fail to do so, they would be sacked by that month-end.

A senior police officer said: “One of the accused had been admitted in a hospital for treatment of Covid-19. We are investigating his whereabouts. So far we seized two laptops, six mobile phones, two Chinese passports, ATM cards and incriminating documents. Further investigation is on to identify their Indian contacts and foreign links. In the course of our investigation, we also learnt that the gang had procured over 2000 SIM cards for illegal operation – that could be based on Indian identities through a call centre in the city.”

“On analysis of various electronic records, we found that they had cheated and harassed more than 25,000 victims. The estimated value of the moneythey swindled is ₹300 crore. Two bank accounts were frozen and further investigation is on to the destination of money proceeds and links. After establishing the role of accused, we may take the next course of action to pursue the accused who were behind this by sending a letter rogatory. The case will likely be investigated by central agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate or others since it has international ramifications,” said sources.

Published on January 04, 2021

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