One of the victims is a Nikol stock broker who had researched the instant loan facility online. The broker, Ajit Gohil, found a few apps and downloaded one and was granted a loan of Rs 10,000 on November 16, 2021.
Gohil had repaid around Rs 17,000 through a UPI (Unified Payments Interface) platform for the Rs 10,000 he had borrowed. In the meantime, he discovered that three other apps had been downloaded to his phone without his knowledge. Through one of these apps, he got around Rs 15,000 without asking.
Later, he started receiving calls from recovery agents who forced him to pay Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 every day and threatened to post his nude photos online if he did not give in to their demands. .
Even though he ended up paying them Rs 5 lakh, he continued to face relentless pressure. The extortionists started sending Gohil his nude photos and said the photographs would soon go viral if he dared to ignore their demands.
Gohil finally contacted the police on January 8 and filed a complaint under the Information Technology Act.
During the investigation, it emerged that the extortionists had access to a device of the target when the lending app was downloaded. The loan is granted only when a person grants full access to the device.
Several people have suffered like Gohil. A 32-year-old businessman from GIDC in Odhav had also downloaded an app to take out a loan. He later discovered that other apps had been installed on his phone. His account showed a deposit of Rs 40,000.
Later, the cyber crooks demanded 10,000 rupees a day in reimbursement and when the businessman refused to pay, they threatened to make his transformed nude photos go viral. He took the help of the police to get rid of the threat.
Sources within the city’s police said two types of people are most vulnerable. “First, those who are truly in need; and second, those looking for money to live the high life,” a police officer said. “Cybercriminals are checking targets’ phones while the loan application is being processed. The scammers formulate their demands according to the profile of the targets.
In many cases, people are reluctant to go to the police and cyber crooks take advantage of the situation, says a police officer. The officer said people should immediately go to the police to deal with the cyber crooks or else they will end up losing everything.