DIGITAL PREDATORY LENDING – A CASE FOR A COMPREHENSIVE CYBER POLICE
We have decided to remain oblivious of the cyber-crime reality all around us. It was coming but nobody has ever bothered about it. Few cyber-crime cells and even fewer cyber-crime police stations are supposed to take care of the cyber physical world which is already on a criminal wildfire. If we don’t take cognizance of it, it does in anyway change the reality. We or the powers that be cannot decide what nature of crime should be on fringes and what should be the mainstream. Even lack of knowledge or expertise does not in way absolve you of the responsibility, you are tasked with that is prevention and detection of crime, whatever genre it might be.
After the banning of large number of Chinese Apps more than two years, what were the preventive steps taken so that the newer and more nefarious ones don’t not make us bite dust. The enemy is known and so is the modus operandi – the Apps route – easy to rip apart any group of society more so the lower strata, if targeted so. What is the status of our cyber criminal intelligence, of the capability to harden the psychology of the financially vulnerable to app lending, loans provided with no questions asked, our acumen to understand cyber organized crime, the data imbroglio, the wherewithal to investigate, and the nature of resources required to battle this scourge; physical, human resource with expertise and the technical infrastructure.
The high-sounding news headlines are not going to take us places nor will the talk shows. They are now called the loan wolves of China. There are hundreds of Apps which can be termed as the sleaze route to predatory lending. These loan lending apps lure the financially desperate individuals to borrow money. Knowing fully their financial inability to pay back and more so at exorbitant rates in a short period of time, they are then subjected to blackmail in a variety of ways, with extreme focus on social stigma. A vast majority of these apps are masterminded by Chinese nationals. There is a huge human cost to the fraud and may have national security considerations as well.
The desperate individuals are pushed into a debt trap. They abuse the access provided to smartphone data to extort exorbitant amounts. The loan is provided with no questions asked. Repayment may start with double the amount, and slowly the frequency of the messages and tone gets increasingly disturbing. It shifts then to blackmail, using your contact list, pics and all that. Predatory lending by such instant loan apps, running like well-established companies, perfecting blackmail have led to a spate of suicides in several states. From stealing data to foreign connection, to shell companies, to fake businesses to rampant blackmail to suicides, to crypto currency connections to Google Play presence and monetization, what all can our conventional police do in this environment? At their best they would be at the tip of the digital crime iceberg.
ONLY SPECILISED DIGITAL POLICING CAN PROVDIDE US THE SECURITY WE ARE LOOKING FOR.