Increased connectivity has made it easier for users to communicate with their near and dear ones and connect with the world around them. It has also paved way for fraudsters to find new ways to lure innocent smartphone users to gain access to their personal data and ultimately rob them off their money. Now, a similar trend is being witnessed in Kerala wherein tricksters are using using fake loan apps for defrauding smartphone users. Also Read - How to change Google Assistant’s voice on your phone
According to a report by The Times of India, natives of Mulanthuruthy and Pambakuda in Kerala lost Rs 3.6 lakhs and Rs 1 lakh respectively owing to fake loan apps. As per the report, the fraudsters called the victims in lieu of getting details for verifying their identity before crediting the specific amount. They also asked for the OTP that the victims received. Once the victims shared the OTPs, they were looted of the mentioned amount. Also Read - Infinix Smart 6 HD with MediaTek Helio A22, Android 11 Go Edition launched in India: Check price, specs
Thankfully, the local police was able to recover the stolen amount after finding out that the money was used for buying gift cards using a different application. Also Read - Twitter confirms hackers took advantage of bug that exposed data of 5.4 million users
In another case, Kochi Police received a complaint from a 25-year-old woman from Edappally who complained of getting threats and abusive messages as her loan repayment date neared. As per a report by the New Indian Express, the woman kept receiving abusive messages as a part of which the fraudsters threatened to send her morphed photographs to her relatives and friends, even as she agreed to make the full payment. She had taken a loan from the Small Credit Tara Rupee loan app. Now, the local police have registered a “case under IPC Sections 354A(1)(iv) for making sexually coloured remarks, 506 for criminal intimidation and 509 for insulting the modesty of a woman, and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act,” the publication reported.
The report also said that this is the seventh such report that the police had received this month so far.
In another case last month, a 20-year-old youngster started getting threat messages six days after he took a loan of Rs 11,000 from Gold Cash app. When the youngster failed to make the payment, the fraudsters started getting morphed images that were also sent to his friends for getting a repayment for the loaned amount. As per a report by the New Indian Express, the Kochi Police have registered a case under IPC section 506 of criminal intimidation, IT Act section 66(e) for violation of privacy and Kerala Police Act 120(o) against the makers of the app.
A local police officer told TOI that frausters behind these fake loan apps credit a specific amount to a user’s account as a part of the loan, which needs to be returned within a specific amount of time. In the background, the app that the tricksters use gets access to user’s contact list and gallery. If the user fails to return the amount in the specified time, the tricksters send vulgar messages about the user to their contacts. They also blackmail users by threatening to leak images of their loved ones on the internet.
How to protect yourself from such scheme
One of the easiest ways to avoid falling prey to such schemes is by not availing loans from apps that claim to be providing easy loans to smartphone users. Apart from this, smartphone users should also refrain from giving apps access to their sensitive data such as photo gallery and contacts. Smartphone users should also check app reviews and developer details before downloading or using any app from the Play Store or App Store.