Andhra Pradesh Business Legal Students Women

Women, students are easy prey for online loan sharks in Guntur district

Chilakaluripet (Guntur) was shocked when her obscene morphed photos were shared with people in her phone contacts even as the loan sharks continued to blackmail her to pay more than what she owed them.

When she filed a police complaint, the police froze her account, but couldn’t trace the harassers even days later.

In another instance, a woman from Chinakakani allegedly committed suicide recently after she was blackmailed that her private photos would be uploaded on social media if she failed to clear the pending interest amount on a loan of just Rs 20,000 she took from online vendors through their mobile apps.

With the internet reaching more remote corners, many people – mostly women, students and employees -are falling prey to such online apps.

Due to COVID-19, many families saw severe financial hardships, which forced them to seek easy loans even at high interest rates. Lack of awareness and the stigma to report such crimes to the police have only given impetus to the loan sharks to harass more people, said Addl SP K Supraja.

She said that women personnel man reception desks at police stations and deal with such cases with empathy. “The chances of stopping such incidents are high only when people report them. Only then can we stop private photos or information from being leaked or shared online, and catch the culprits on time,” she said.

She appealed to people to be very cautious while taking loans from apps and inform the police if they were being blackmailed into paying more money than what they owe. Meanwhile, Guntur district reported 125 cybercrime cases in the past six months.

The cybercrime police have identified 221 fraud loan apps on Play Store and requested Google to remove them.