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Mumbai Police Unveils Scam: Fake Loan AppsExploit Prime Minister Schemes, Dupe ThousandsNationwide

In a recent breakthrough, Mumbai Police uncovered a widespread racket involving

cybercriminals who developed fraudulent mobile apps masquerading as Prime

Minister Loan schemes. Thousands of unsuspecting individuals across the country

fell victim to this elaborate scam, lured by the promise of loans with exceptionally

low-interest rates.

The scam revolved around the creation of unauthorized mobile applications that deceitfully mimicked government-backed service providers offering loans under Prime Minister schemes. The criminals exploited the trust associated with such initiatives, leading to a large-scale financial deception.The city’s cybercrime police station has arrested four men for carrying out online fraud worth ₹4 crore and duping more than 250,000 people from across the country. The police probe found that Sawle’s mobile number had been used by the accused on five fake mobile apps — named Pradhan Mantri Yojana Loan, PM Loan Yojana,

PMYL Loan and Sarvottam Finance Loan Service — which promised loans with low

rates of interest. Accused Sanjeev Kumar Singh, 36, was arrested on February 15 in

Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh while Pranjul Rathore, 27; Ramnivas Kumawat, 25; and Vivek

Sharma, 42, were arrested in Jaipur on February 18. The arrested accused have

been booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the

Information Technology (IT) Act.

Police have seized 18 mobile phones, 10 hard discs, three routers and a pen drive

from the gang’s offices in Aligarh and Jaipur. “The fraudsters had featured a

photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the national emblem on the app

and as a result, over 279,000 people registered for loans, and many paid the

processing fees,” said Dr Rashmi Karandikar, deputy commissioner of police (cyber).

Key Findings:

 Proliferation of Fake Loan Apps: Cybercriminals devised a series of

unauthorized mobile applications, including names such as Pradhan Mantri

Yojna Loan, PM Loan Yojna, PMYL Loan, and Sarvottam Finance Loan

Service. These apps were designed to mimic legitimate government

initiatives.

 Deceptive Loan Promises: The fraudulent apps enticed victims with

promises of loans featuring exceptionally low-interest rates. Exploiting the

appeal of government-backed schemes, individuals were led to believe they

were availing genuine financial assistance.

 Lack of Authentication: Thousands of people, attracted by the seemingly

authentic appearance of the apps and the allure of favourable credit terms,

failed to verify the authenticity of the service providers. The absence of due

diligence played a pivotal role in the success of the scam.

 Financial Exploitation: Once individuals downloaded the fake apps, they

became susceptible to financial exploitation. The criminals manipulated

victims into paying processing fees and charges under the guise of facilitating

the loan application process.

Implications:

 Urgent Need for Awareness: The revelation underscores the urgent need for

widespread awareness campaigns to educate individuals about verifying the

authenticity of mobile apps, especially those related to financial services.

 Enhanced App Security Measures: Authorities and app stores should

bolster security measures to detect and remove unauthorized applications,

preventing the proliferation of fake schemes that exploit unsuspecting users.

 Stricter Regulatory Oversight: Regulatory bodies should consider

implementing stricter oversight and control mechanisms to curb the creation

and dissemination of fraudulent apps impersonating government initiatives.

Conclusion:

The Mumbai Police's successful intervention in busting a racket involving fake loan

apps posing as Prime Minister schemes highlights the vulnerability of individuals to

sophisticated cybercrimes. It emphasizes the necessity for a collective effort from law

enforcement, regulatory bodies, and the public to thwart such scams and safeguard

the financial well-being of citizens.

Sample Case 4: Computer Weekly reported that their investigation revealed

schools, smalls businesses and charities received threatening demands for

hundreds and thousands of pounds for using the apparently free Flickr photographs

from the internet unintentionally. A German photographer Marco Verch put thousands

of apparently free-to-use images on the internet and people started using it without

being aware that they were actually falling prey to a copyright scam.

Modus Operandi:

1. A photographer publishes tens of thousands of copyright images on the internet

belonging to Flickr.

2. Common users download them without even realising that they violate any license

agreements.

3. The photographer uses his software and third-party enforcement services to

identify people who apparently have violated the copyright rules.

4. The people who downloaded those images unknowingly become a target of fines

and legal penalties.


News Source: Computer Weekly

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