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Apple removes 6 fraudulent loan apps from App Store in India: Read how ‘quick loan’ apps exploit the vulnerable

Another app with the name Rupiya Box though had a high rating of 4.7, its reviews tell another story. A user, Nikhil75, wrote, "This is a scam. They will harass your contacts and send them your nude edited pictures even after paying them back. I request App Store to remove them from the listing."

Apple has reportedly removed six predatory personal loan apps from App Store in India in the first week of July 2023. On 7th July, Techcrunch reported that the action was taken days after users and media questioned the legitimacy of the apps’ services on the App Store.

The six apps that have been removed from the platforms include Pocket Kash, White Kash, Golden Kash, Ok Rupee and others. These apps were offering fast-track lending to consumers in India, mainly to those who fail to secure loans from banks owing to either bad credit scores or insufficient income to show as a guarantee of repayment. These apps secured a place in the top 20 finance apps on the App Store in recent weeks.

Interestingly, on 3rd June, Blazeclan Technologies said in a tweet that Ok Rupee was not their app and cautioned users. They advised not to engage with the app. It appears the claims made by the loan apps are dubious in many cases and they show association with registered companies while having no link in reality.

Notably, consumers to fell into the trap of these apps said they charged outrageous amounts in the name of processing charges. A user reviewed the app on App Store and said, “I borrowed an amount in a helpless situation and […] a day before repayment due date I got some messages with my pic and my contacts in my phone saying that repay your loan otherwise they will inform our contacts that you r not paying loan.” Hundreds of similar reviews were visible on these apps before they were taken down.

Two days before the apps were pulled down, TechCrunch had contacted Apple for comment. In a statement, Apple confirmed the apps were removed, saying they “falsely representing an association with a financial institution” and violated the “Apple Developer Program License Agreement and guidelines”.

Apple said, “The App Store, and our App Review Guidelines, are designed to ensure we provide our users with the safest experience possible. We do not tolerate fraudulent activity on the App Store and have stringent rules against apps and developers who attempt to cheat the system.”

“As our recent analysis showed: the App Store stopped over $2 billion in fraudulent transactions in 2022, rejected nearly 1.7 million app submissions for failing to meet Apple’s standards of quality and safety, and terminated 428,000 developer accounts for potentially fraudulent activity,” they added.

Predatory loan apps on App Store and Google Play

Though Apple has pulled the plug for six apps, hundreds of such apps are still available for App Store and Google Play Store. OpIndia searched the top 100 financial apps on App Store and found multiple apps that were offering loans and had bad reviews. For example, an app called EE-Cash was developed by Whitefort Limited Company. It has a 2-star rating with 45 reviews. The app is in 45th rank on App Store.

Source: Apple App Store

A user named Aksh0919 wrote, “He is a fraud person and fraud company hai blackmailing karne ka kam hai he takes all your contact information and makes your bad pictures with your identity proofs and makes abuses pictures via editing.”

Another user wrote, “I had made all the payment fir bhi bol rha h dubara payment krne ko toh dubara kyu kru (I had made all the payment but he is asking to do the payment again. Why should I?)”.

Another app we found with a low rating was YesCredit. It had a 2.4 rating on the App Store.

Source: Apple App Store

Another app with the name Rupiya Box though had a high rating of 4.7, its reviews tell another story. A user, Nikhil75, wrote, “This is a scam. They will harass your contacts and send them your nude edited pictures even after paying them back. I request App Store to remove them from the listing.”

Source: Apple App Store

Karndeepsingh wrote, “2000 repayment only six day and charges 800 too high poor app don’t install. (sic)”

The vicious trap of loan apps

Most of these apps have Chinese origin. These predatory apps offer loans without collateral and with low credit scores. Most people who are not well-versed in the financial world or cannot secure loans from traditional lending firms take loans from these apps. They provide loans varying from Rs 500 to several thousand. Once a user secures a loan, there are several ways they trap them, and the victim keeps paying while getting deeper into the trap.

In many cases, it has been found that they offer a small amount and deduct almost half of it in the name of processing fees. In February 2023, the Government of India banned over 90 such loan apps that had links to China.

Then, the victim is forced to repay the loan amount within a week. Imagine, a person who is in desperate need of a small amount, say Rs 1,500, gets only Rs 800 and then has to pay Rs 1,500 + interest within 7 days. In many cases, the victims fail to repay. The loan companies then not only threaten and abuse them but also contact their relatives from the phonebook they copied when the app was installed. Furthermore, they start sending morphed nude images to the relatives to put pressure on the victim. In some cases, victims have committed suicide. The government of India is extensively working on getting rid of such apps and the Reserve Bank of India has issued guidelines from time to time on tackling such lending apps.

The best thing a person can do is to avoid such loan apps and try to secure loans from banks or genuine loan apps. Check the reviews beforehand, not only on the app stores but also on social media. Do not trust any app that offers a loan with zero collateral. Do not share your personal information with them or give access to your phone just to secure a loan.

In case you fell into their trap and find it difficult to get out of the mess, uninstall the app immediately and file a police complaint. Inform your family and relatives that you got into trouble and they may get a couple of calls or messages on WhatsApp. Inform the app representative that you have filed a police complaint of harassment and stop taking calls after that. Keep in touch with the police to ensure your case is moving forward.

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B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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