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Loan app scam: Cyber probe hits a hurdle in Nepal

Updated on: 29 June,2022 07:23 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Samiullah Khan | samiullah.khan@mid-day.com

Investigators zero in on a broadband operator in Kathmandu behind harassment of Indian borrowers; mid-day visits place, but staff refuse to cooperate

Loan app scam: Cyber probe hits a hurdle in Nepal

Oasis Broadband has its office on the 5th floor of this building in Kathmandu

Weeks after this correspondent took loans from digital lending apps to dig deeper into their unethical methods, mid-day went beyond borders—all the way up to Kathmandu—to learn more about calls made to a city woman from Nepal. Two mobile numbers tied to the calls had cropped up during the probe into the suicide of the woman who was being hounded by loan wolves. City cops said they can’t do much at this stage since it involves a different country.

Headquartered on the 5th floor of Tamrakar House in the heart of Nepal capital, Oasis Broadband Internet Pvt. Ltd. is a popular name locally and provides internet to about 60 per cent of the area. mid-day spoke to the staff with the help of an interpreter. This newspaper shared the IP addresses of WiFi routers used by the recovery agents and sought more details about their owners.

The staff at Oasis Broadband didn’t cooperateThe staff at Oasis Broadband didn’t cooperate

Investigations by Mumbai cybercops have shown that loan apps have engaged people from across India and Nepal to threaten borrowers to cough up money. The highly invasive apps get complete access to the borrower’s phone after which their agents morph customers’ personal photos to blackmail them.

Despite much prodding, the staff of Oasis Broadband refused to disclose any details about the users of the routers. The police in Mumbai said their investigation has hit a dead-end as the service provider is based in Nepal and they need help from the CBI’s Interpol Wing to proceed further.  Oasis Broadband first caught the attention of the Navghar police after they began investing in the suicide of the woman, a Dongri resident, on March 16. 

They registered a case against three loan apps and 13 people for harassing the woman. They had threatened to send her obscene photos and videos to her family and relatives. In three suicide notes, the woman had narrated her ordeal and shared 13-14 mobile numbers of the recovery agent. Her call data record threw up two numbers from Nepal.

GRP also finds Nepal link
In a case registered by the Andheri Government Railway Police, the probe also pointed to calls made using internet provided by Oasis Broadband. The GRP had made the first breakthrough in the loan app scam by arresting a 19-year-old from Karnataka. This came after mid-day ran a series of reports exposing the crimes being committed by many digital lenders.

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