CHENNAI: Stay away from mobile apps promising high interest rates. In the past few months, scores of people have lost lakhs of rupees through such apps. The fraudsters are still at large, and Chennai city police’s Cyber Cell wing is trying to trace them.
So far, the cops have received complaints from at least 37 people, prompting them to register a case and search for those behind the apps in question - ‘Power Bank app’ and ‘Tesla Power Bank app’. These applications were advertised on social media, and promised attractive interest rates, letting users pick from investment schemes ranging from a few thousand rupees to several lakhs. “They promised an interest of 5-10 per cent daily or weekly, and let users withdraw the money. The fraudsters behind the app would also randomly text people on Telegram, WhatsApp and other platforms, asking them to also convince their friends to invest,” said a police officer privy to the case.
The fraudsters would first buy users’ trust by giving them a handsome amount of money within a week. And once the users invested more, they would stop responding. “They never shared bank account details, but would ask users to invest via mobile wallets such as Google Pay and PhonePe. By the time users realised they were being conned, the fraudsters had stopped using that mobile number, and there was no way to contact them,” said the officer.
One of the victims told Express he used the app as he didn’t have a job for eight months in 2020, and the job he found this March offers only half his previous salary. “A friend told me about the app, and I figured I could double my salary within 24 days. I first invested Rs 5,000, and got Rs 2,000 in a week. Later, I invested the rest of my salary, Rs 14,000, and was told I would get it back with interest in 23 days. It’s been over three months now, and I haven’t heard from them,” said the 27-year-old.
Police from the Cyber Cell said people should only trust RBI-regulated banks and investment apps, and not fall prey to fraudsters. In the first week of June, 11 fraudsters were arrested in Delhi for conning people to the tune of Rs 150 crore. The police found that they had links to a few Chinese nationals who were transferring the money via shell companies in India.
During the lockdown last year, lakhs of people in the State were enticed by mobile apps that promised instant loans at an interest rate of 35 per cent. The people behind the apps later taunted the users’ friends and families if the money wasn’t paid back. Unable to bear this, a few people killed themselves. The police later arrested a few Chinese nationals who were funding the apps under the fake organisations.