R Sivaraman

The Chinese gang involved in operating online loan applications had also purchased 2,000 SIM cards using false Indian identity papers, sources said.

Detectives from the Central Crime Branch, the Greater Chennai City Police Force, have stepped up their investigation into the alleged links between the arrested Chinese nationals and Indians. After searching for the suspects for nearly 20 days, the task force dismantled the covert operations of a call center run by two Indian nationals in Bengaluru, who claimed to be the directors of the company.

Subsequently, police arrested two Chinese nationals who were behind them and discovered the further involvement of Chinese nationals in operating illegal online loan applications that offered cheaper loans and then harassed debtors demanding the payment of exorbitant interest rates. The main defendant Hong was operating from China, while the other two, Xioa Yamao and Wu Yuanlun, remained in Haralur, Bangalore. Frequent instructions have been sent from China.

Pandemic a setback

Sources said the first defendant Hong and others descended in January before the start of the pandemic. They had suffered a setback due to the pandemic situation. They operated call centers, hiring locals as pagers. Call centers were found to be registered as non-bank finance companies, which are allowed to work in the microfinance sector. The directors of the companies are Indians, but the operations were completely controlled by these Chinese nationals. The administrators were paid by them and the telephone operators were hired by the administrators. The pagers got the target – they should get at least 10 clients; if they don’t, they would be fired at the end of the month.

A senior police officer said: “One of the defendants had been admitted to a hospital for treatment for Covid-19. We are investigating his whereabouts. So far, we have seized two laptops, six cell phones, two Chinese passports, ATM cards and offending documents. Further investigation is underway to identify their Indian contacts and foreign ties. During our investigation, we also learned that the gang had obtained more than 2,000 SIM cards for illegal transactions – which could be based on Indian identities through a call center in the city.

“After analyzing various electronic files, we discovered that they had cheated and harassed over 25,000 victims. The estimated value of the money they defrauded is 300 crore. Two bank accounts have been frozen and a further investigation is underway into the destination of the money and the bonds. After establishing the role of the accused, we can take the next course of action to prosecute the accused who were behind this by sending a rogatory letter. The case will likely be investigated by central agencies such as the Law Enforcement Directorate or others, as it has international ramifications, ”sources said.

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