Pinarayi Vijayan | Photo: Mathrubhumi
Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government on Monday said that incidents of people being cheated after availing loans through online apps are being reported in the state and the police was taking strict action against the entities involved in such activities even though they are operating from other states.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in the assembly that according to information received by police, these entities in other states were operating in violation of Reserve Bank of India regulations and the Money Lenders Act.
The Chief Minister was replying to a submission by CPI(M) MLA V Joy in the House regarding an increase in online loan fraud cases in Kerala and the steps that the state government plans to take to address the issue.
On the measures the state government was taking, Vijayan said 19 cyber police stations have been set up and a high-tech cell of specially-trained police officers has also been constituted for effective probe into and legal action against cyber crimes, especially online loan fraud cases.
Besides, necessary awareness campaigns are being carried out through the social media cell and Janamaithri security scheme of the state police to prevent people from falling prey to such fraudulent entities, he said.
Giving details of how these entities operate and who are susceptible to such frauds, the Chief Minister said such scams are taking place due to the extensive use of mobile phones, which are indispensable to everyone in today's society.
Another reason was that there are people who have a mindset of availing loans from wherever they can get it and such persons are easily duped by a promise of loan, Vijayan said.
Joy, in his submission, said it all starts with an SMS which claims that a certain amount of loan has been sanctioned and asks the person who receives the message to click on the link which accompanies it.
On clicking it, an app is downloaded on the phone and it collects all personal information and photographs of the person and thereafter, asks for some money for processing the loans, Joy said and added that default in payment of the loans leads to all kinds of threats and harassment.
Giving more details of how these scams operate, CM Vijayan said, "After collecting the personal information of the customer who downloads the money lending apps, a processing fee of around 30 per cent is charged and small amounts are loaned for a period of one week.
"In case of default in repayment, the loan companies resort to the method of constantly threatening and sending defamatory messages to put the customer under psychological pressure."
It is a very important social issue and indicates the need for building awareness amongst the public against such scams, he added.