Tuesday, May 17, 2022
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‘Never applied for a loan but loan got disbursed by Dhani’: Suspected loan fraud at IndiaBulls’ loan app, what we know so far

Multiple Twitter users have tweeted that loans have been disbursed on their PAN by Dhani app by IndiaBulls which they had not availed.

On February 13, Reuters journalist Aditya Kalra expressed his shock on Twitter’s social media after discovering that the Dhani app disbursed a loan to him which he had never applied for. In his tweet, Kalra said someone used his PAN number to avail a loan from Dhani, an instant loan app by IndiaBulls. Kalra said, “Shocking revelation in my credit report. A loan disbursed by IVL Finance (Indiabulls) Dhani with my PAN number & name, addresses in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. I have no clue. How can a disbursal happen on my name and PAN. In default already.”

Kalra also shared a screenshot of the loan information from the Cibil report. As per the documents, the amount disbursed was Rs 1000, and it was sanctioned on November 14, 2021. The person who availed the loan did not repay the loan, the pending amount was Rs 9,945. The amount overdue was Rs 5,126.

He was not alone who alleged that loans were disbursed on their PAN cards and that they were unaware about the same. Kalra shared multiple tweets of people who got duped by scammers and are now trying their best to clear their names. In every case, the scammers appeared to have used the PAN details to avail micro loans.

Kalra shared a screenshot of his credit score fluctuating since the loan was availed. His credit score was 801 in August 2021, drastically dropping to 666 in December 2021. It revived in January, possibly because of the other activities on his credit line.

Notably, in such cases, if Dhani or the financial institution does not act quickly, it will have a serious impact on the credit score of the victim. Also, as the fraudster has not paid a single penny back, it will harm the loan-availing capacity of the victim. Whenever he or she would try to avail a loan, this particular case may come up and put a dent in his or her reputation in front of the lender.

During the investigation, OpIndia came across numerous such cases. Speaking to OpIndia, Rishab Babuta, one of the victims of the alleged loan fraud, said he has been running from pillar to post to get out of the mess for the last three months but could not get a concrete solution for the problem. Babuta, who is an NRI (Merchant Navy Officer), said, “As I am an NRI, no banks or institutions can issue loans or cards to me without a mortgage or an overdraft account. Despite the regulations, the loan was dispursed by Dhani, and I am facing the problem.”

Babuta found out about the scam in November 2021. Two loans were availed in his name of Rs 1,000 and Rs 2,000, he said. Due to non-payment of the said loans, the total amount due was Rs 12,000, including a penalty. He immediately checked if there was an error with the CIBIL report. On December 27, once he was sure that it was not an issue at CIBIL’s end, Babuta contacted Dhani for support.

Screenshot of the email sent to Dhani by Babota. OpIndia has hidden the personal information in the screenshot.

In every case, including Babuta, Dhani has replied to the complaint but did not provide any concrete solution. He said, “Dhani has not resolved this fraud; I am still trying to find a solution. I am in touch with their fraud team, who basically forced me to send across my original documents, which they did not have… claiming to be necessary for the resolution… but it changed nothing even after a month.”

It is noteworthy PAN authentication not done by Dhani; otherwise, the loan would not have been approved. Babuta also shared complaint numbers with Cyber Crime Unit, Income Tax department, CIBIL and RBI. A solution from all departments is awaited. He said, “I had shared the details with the Cyber Crime officer on the January 14. After I received a confirmation email from the cyber cell National account, but they never got back to me neither answered my calls after that.”

‘Inside involvement is possible’

Speaking to OpIndia, CA Guru Prasad said, “The credit score impacted by such frauds can only be rectified once the investigation is over. The first thing the victim needs to do after learning about the possible fraud is to inform the bank and file a police complaint.” There is no foolproof method to avoid such fraud. He said, “Unless there is some involvement in disbursing the loans from inside the company, it is not possible for such frauds to happen.”

‘Loan companies are not authenticating PAN’

As per the experts, there is a problem with the methodology these loan companies are following. Vinay Murarka, CEO V2Technosys said, “There is a mechanism in place with banks that they must follow while disbursing the loan. When you apply for a loan, the bank authenticates the documents and only then give you the loan. In cases like what is happening in the Dhani app, the company is not authenticating the documents.”

He further said the loan must be disbursed into the account linked to the PAN card. He said, “The loan must be disbursed in a bank account linked to the PAN card with the matching details mentioned on the PAN card and bank account. Also, the companies must do Aadhaar authentication before disbursing the loan. It is clearly the loan company’s fault as they are not authenticating the documents before disbursing the loan.”

While talking about the impact on CIBIL score, he said, “There is no way out for the victim other than contesting it in a court. If you are a victim, file a police complaint, inform the authorities and file a court case against the company.” He further expressed his surprise that CIBIL is not taking any action against these companies. “CIBIL must have multiple complaints against Dhani. I am surprised they are still taking these companies into consideration and adding the information to the CIBIL score of the victims. The same goes for the RBI. They should have suspended operations of the company by now.”

’75 million downloads, 25 million lines of credit issued – how many frauds?’

Experts believe every one of six downloads of the Dhani app could be linked to fraud. Srikant Lakshmanan, CashlessConsumer, a consumer collective on fintech, shared a detailed thread about the technical aspect of the alleged fraud. He said Dhani uses a random collection of PAN to give its users credit on their wallets. They have 75M installs, likely that PAN of 1 in 6 could be victim of these bogus line of credit issued and default of such affecting credit scores.”

He further shared multiple tweets where so-called tech experts had shared detailed videos on how to get free recharge or login in the Dhani app without documents using random PAN numbers. The videos shared by him clocked lakhs of views. Shockingly, such activities have been happening since 2020, which could be seen from the tweets, but no action was taken by Dhani or any government agency.

Speaking to OpIndia, Srikanth said, “We can discuss different theories on how to avoid such scams, but we need an explanation from Dhani. From the range of complaints, these don’t seem to be individual instances of fraud, but an organized crime, with/without the knowledge of Dhani.”

While discussing possible reasons why Dhani did not act on the complaints or change its methodology to disperse the loans, he said, “The recent trend in the digital lending industry – there is a video KYC (especially, post covid this is normalized) besides Aadhaar/PAN-based eKYC. Most apps do OCR verification of ID proof, some even ask to take a selfie with the proof of ID. In this case, that certainly has not happened. They probably took just an input of ID.”

He further urged everyone not to share PAN and Aadhaar info to avoid such situations. He said, “The government must bring in data protection law and ensure the safety of citizens before seeking any linking mandate. PAN-Aadhaar linkage is due this March 31.” Srikanth also insisted on checking the credit report regularly to keep a check on such frauds and seek revision in credit reports to remove all such unknown loans.

What can you do if you are victim?

First of all, you must check your CIBIL report regularly to detect if any fraudulent activity has taken place. You can either check at CIBIL.com by paying a fee, or you can check it for free with service providers like Experian.

If you are a victim, experts suggest you should take the following steps:

  • Immediately inform the bank or financial institute about the fraud. Write an email or submit a complaint to their official mail ID or registered office. Keep a copy of the complaint and save the acknowledgement number for future reference. Make sure to include all the details you have about the fraud.
  • Collect all the documents and file a Police complaint. Make sure you have the FIR copy with you.
  • Submit the FIR copy to the bank or financial institute so that they have the information about the legal proceedings.
  • Do not wait for the financial institution to initiate any action and file a complaint in court. Experts say proceeding with the legal process is the only way out. As a consumer, you can either file a complaint with the consumer court, or you can file a criminal case against the bank. Consult an advocate to file the complaint.
  • Regularly follow up with the bank and police to know if there was any progress in the case.

At this time, the only thing a victim can do is to contest it legally in court.

OpIndia contacted Dhani via email. By the time this report was published, we did not receive any communication from their end. We are also in conversation with several experts over the matter. We will update the story as we get more information.

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Anurag
Anurag
B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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