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Chinese fraudsters on prowl in India!

Stealing personal data and money in the garb of instant loan and gaming apps right under RBI’s nose

Chinese fraudsters on prowl in India!

Chinese fraudsters on prowl in India! 

CHINESE nationals are managing online small ticket financing firms through 'insta loan' apps and online gaming sites in India. And there are too many such unlawful businesses being run by Chinese nationals in the country mostly trapping young professionals.

In fact, it's a big game running under RBI's nose. The machinations of Chinese fraudsters came to light earlier this this month when a Chinese national was intercepted by the Border Security Force (BSF) along the India-Bangladesh international border in West Bengal's Malda. Identified as Han Junwe (36), the guy visited India four times in the past as per his own confession given before the BSF. From interrogation and recovered passport, it was learnt that he reached Dhaka, Bangladesh on June 2 on a business visa, and stayed there with a Chinese friend.

BSF officials have seized a laptop, two iPhones, one Bangladeshi SIM, two pen drives, ATM cards, US currency along with some Bangladeshi and Indian currency from the Chinese national.

During interrogation, he said that he owns a hotel in Gurugram and has been to India at least four times since 2010 and had been to Hyderabad, Delhi and Gurugram. Hunwe is not the only Chinese indulged in various kinds of financial frauds in India. There are so many and that too in different parts of the country.

In one of the biggest financial crackdowns by Delhi police, an elaborate money laundering scam run by China-based entities has been busted. Two CAs, a Tibetan woman and eight others have been arrested. Around five lakh Indians have been duped of their "investment" and their sensitive data stolen through malicious "quick earning apps running in the garb of an online multi-level marketing campaign.

These apps offered lucrative returns on investment with claims to double their investment in a month's time. They also had schemes promising returns on an hourly and daily basis, and had investment options starting from Rs 300 to several lakhs. One of the apps, Power Bank & EZ Plan, was recently trending at No 4 on Google Play Store.

The Power Bank app projected itself as a Bengaluru-based Technology start-up involved in quick-charging technology, in a bid to deceive people. However, the server on which the app was hosted was in China. The malicious apps were also associated with several permissions such as 'access to camera', 'read contact details' and 'read and write to external storage'.

The network of Chinese nationals indulged in financial frauds related activities is spread across the country.

"Various online applications like gaming, social media, and e-commerce apps particularly in the form of loan app are being created by fraudsters or criminal gangs," Bal Singh Rajput, DCP (Crime Prevention), Mumbai told Bizz Buzz. The government has banned 267 apps in the past, which were stealing data and invading privacy of the users and harm to national security.

"Still, these fraudsters are coming up with new tricks and floating various apps for the purpose of data stealing and intruding the privacy of the Indian citizens by installing various malwares in those apps. Mostly, these apps are into gaming and social media and e-commerce sections. All these apps are harvesting the data which may be used for criminal purposes. Users should remain aware of the kinds of crimes taking place in the country and they should make sure that they do not fall in such traps," Rajput added. These mobile based Chinese money lenders have full support of Chinese government to further weaken Indian economy. This is a part of larger strategy of cyberwarfare, the Chinese have unleashed in India by targeting domains like Cyberspace, IT, Financial Sector including banks and stock markets, critical grids like, railway, electricity and energy sectors. "Recent string of cases related to fraudulent mobile apps for instant loans has reached an epidemic proportion. It is because of the ongoing Covid-19 which forced people to look for instant loans to sustain livelihoods as the pandemic caused massive joblessness in the country. Majority of these apps and call centres are run by Chinese companies registered in India," says Ravi Shankar, a Delhi-based cyber expert. There is a huge challenge before Indian law enforcement agencies and policy makers to thwart Chinese cyber dominance in the country. Banning Chinese apps last year was one such steps to rein in the menace but a lot more steps are needed to be taken in this regard, he added. During raids in Hyderabad and Gurugram in the last week of December 2020, Hyderabad and Cyberabad Police busted the call centres of the fraudulent instant loan apps such as Cash Mama, Dhan and Loan Zone, etc. Cyber Crime Police Station, Cyberabad, had registered eight cases against these loan applications in December. The police had received a complaint from a person, in which he stated that for his financial needs he searched Google and downloaded the Instant Loan App and uploaded an Aadhar card, PAN card, self-authentication photo. Rakshit Tandon, a Gurugram-based cyber crime expert says that a host of gangs, being run by Chinese nationals across the country, has already been busrted by the police from across the country. These Chinese nationals lure the innocent people by offering 'insta' or immediate loans through Apps which are having in-built malwares which steal all your personal data stored in your cellphone on installation."

Kumud Das
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