“Calls, threats”: the three suicides motivated by the racket of instant loans

0

On the afternoon of December 16, P Sunil, 24, gave his five-month-old son a long hug as he and his wife Ramya, 23, watched television at their home in Kismatpur in Hyderabad. So, he entered another room and hanged himself.

In the days that followed, police discovered that that morning Sunil had received dozens of phone calls and messages from numbers linked to instant loan apps. “I knew he had taken loans through the apps. He couldn’t pay back because he lost his job during the lockdown, and he was getting continuous calls, even at night, full of abuse. They threatened to file FIRs, lock his bank account, defame him. He was worried all the time. To repay one loan, he took out another and ended up with a debt of more than 2,000,000 rupees” says Ramya, who now lives with her in-laws in Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh.

Over the past few days, Telangana Police have received at least 90 complaints from similar victims, who borrowed money through apps that clear loans within half an hour, charge high interest and work tandem. A defaulter is subjected to constant harassment, over the phone, including fake FIR messages and court notices, and humiliated in front of friends and relatives. Three suicides and one suicide attempt were reported.

Hyderabad, Cyberabad and Rachakonda Police in Telangana have written to Google to remove 158 instant loan apps from Google Play Store. Telangana police raided offices and call centers in Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Pune and Gurugram, from where hundreds of staff called customers. The 14 people arrested include a Chinese national, allegedly behind 11 of the apps.

Cyberabad Police Commissioner VC Sajjanar said he feared “thousands of people are suffering the abuse and harassment in silence, afraid to seek help”. A preliminary investigation revealed nearly 1.4 crore in transactions worth nearly Rs 21,000 crore, according to a statement from Hyderabad Police, reported by PTI.

Dr Balraj, sub-inspector at Rajendranagar Police Station who is investigating Sunil’s case, said Sunil had 30 instant loan applications. “Due to high interest rates, he had to repay almost double the amount he borrowed. He got a new job and was supposed to join it a week later, but recovery agents had started calling his contacts.

Sunil was working as a developer in a game company in Madhapur in Hyderabad, before being made redundant. He first used a credit card to pay his bills, but when dues increased, he started borrowing on instant loan apps.

Prior to consuming pesticides on December 12, Kirni Mounika, 24, messaged the instant loan app Fly Cash, one of 55 on her phone, saying, “You have already ruined my life. Four days later, Mounika, the only time-saving member of her family, along with three younger brothers who are still studying, died.

After a B.Sc in Agriculture, Mounika had joined work as an agricultural extension worker in the village of Rajgopalpet in Telangana, earning Rs 37,000 per month. “She was lively, hardworking. She had joined two years ago and was already a role model among young officers,” says P Sravan Kumar, District Agricultural Officer.

In addition to taking care of household expenses, Mounika’s salary paid for school fees and accommodation for her three brothers. Police discovered that she first borrowed Rs. 16,832 on November 1 from Cash Bean. At maturity on November 7, it borrowed Rs 22,000 from Credit Bean on November 5. “From November 1 to December 9, she borrowed Rs 2.71 lakh, of which she had repaid around Rs 2.50 lakh. From the way the money, ranging from Rs 2,800 to Rs 7,000, was deposited into her account, it appears that she took out a loan from one app to repay the other. Also, some apps seem to have pressured her or convinced her to download new apps. She continued to repay until December 9, by which time she owed more than Rs 1 lakh in interest and the applications had started messaging her contacts,” said Rameshwar Rao, ACP, Siddipet Division.

After that, according to the police, Mounika stopped borrowing and sent messages asking for a delay of two to three days. As in other cases, recovery agents then deployed a combination of tactics – they made hundreds of calls and flooded his phone with text messages and WhatsApp messages, sending fake FIRs, fake court notices and fake marked letters to the RBI to block his bank. accounts, Aadhaar and PAN. On December 11, they sent messages to her phone contacts, including her best friend Sahaja and her mother. On December 12, as she was packing her bags to attend Sahaja’s wedding in Warangal, instant loan apps started messaging the WhatsApp groups of her office mates and relatives with her photo, calling her a faulty. At 5 p.m. the same day, Mounika consumed pesticides.

Mounika’s father, Kirni Bhoopani, is a former sarpanch, and although not well off, the family had political connections in Nangunur Mandal. “I don’t know why she took out these loans. If I had known, I would have arrested her,” says Bhoopani.

Not knowing she is dead, recovery workers have made at least 40 calls a day and sent at least 250 messages to Mounika’s phone in recent days.

Two days after Mounika died, Dr Santhosh, 36, consumed pesticides at his home in Malkapur, after sending a video selfie to his friend B Subramanyam saying he got trapped in a cycle of debt . On December 23, Santhosh died. “He blamed five instant loan app companies. If he ignored their phone calls, they would call his family members… It seems there was not a minute’s respite,” Subramanyam says.

Santhosh worked as a site manager with SL Trans at Ramagundam Fertilizers and Chemicals Limited. He lived alone, with his family settled in Visakhapatnam. “During the confinement, he borrowed money. He repaid most of it but got caught in a cycle. He took Rs 9,319 from Udhaar Loan; Rs 9,197 from Rufilo; Rs 4,230 from Reepay; Rs 16,660 from AAA; and Rs 11,770 from Loan Gram. He ended up with a debt of Rs 51,176, the interest which was still Rs 50,000,” said DCP P Ravinder.

According to the police, most instant loan applications do not have RBI approval. Police Commissioner Sajjanar said, “Once a person took a loan, other app operators convinced them to take more loans. In many cases, after a customer has refunded the full amount, further monies are credited without a customer requesting it. The app operators carefully set the trap, without revealing all the details. If a person urgently needs Rs 5,000, they will only get around Rs 3,800, after deducting “processing fee and GST”. Customers are therefore forced to take out loans from other applications. »

Having obtained consent to access the contact list, photos, documents, etc. when clearing the loan, the applications have these details with them.

The raided call centers belong to, among others, Liufang Technologies, Hotful Technologies, Pinprint Technologies and Nabloom Technologies, registered in Bengaluru; and Onion Credit, CredFox Technologies Pvt Ltd and Digipeergo Tech Pvt Ltd, in Hyderabad. Digipeergo is owned by Chinese national Zixia Zhang. In Pune, police raided Jiya Liang Infotech, which operated 10 instant loan apps.

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.