August 28, 2021

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Terror loans: organized crime extorts through applications

Terror loans: organized crime extorts through applications
Flower
Flower

Threats against the family, photos of dismembered bodies, access to all contacts, control of social networks of the victim. The organized crime has been sophisticated and has found a window to extort money through the download of mobile applications, offering easy loans, in a matter of minutes and without consulting the Credit bureau, betting on the need and urgency of money of the people.

Like other types of hoaxes, the hook appears on social networks: a message in Facebook where loans of 300, 800, 3 thousand or 5 thousand pesos are announced, with no further requirements than downloading an application or in some cases providing the CURP O RFC. In addition to charging high interest rates and committing fraud, a door is opened to a chain of extortion that disrupts the work and family environment.

Names like ListoCash, ReadyEffective, CashCash, MoneyCash, Dr. Weight, CrediLibre, CashBox, MoneyMan, Money, And Cash, hurts, Money Veo, MaxCredit, MagiCrédito, AliBery, CrediyaTo mention a few, they appear and disappear from social networks and application stores offering immediate loans, without any commercial or financial authority in Mexico being able to do more than alert users.

For example, in the Play Store from Google You can find several of these applications, where there are already comments with complaints from users accusing of fraud and extortion at the time of collection.

The mode of operation begins with the download of an application. Without knowing it, the victim authorizes access to their social networks, contacts and other permissions on their phone, thus the fraud operators put together a chain of extortion that does not end with the uninstallation of the mobile app.

The scheme is similar, but in a digital version, to the drop by drop applied by foreign criminals to extort money in the Mexico City.

The organization In Defense of the Debtor has received in recent days several cases of people who, faced with the need for a loan, fell into deception and the degree of harassment has been such that some have been fired from their jobs because the threats arrive even their bosses.

“A girl who was a victim of this deception has thought about suicide due to the degree of threat she has received,” he said. Julio Sanchez, responsible for the legal area of ​​In Defense of the Debtor.

For the specialist, there is no doubt that organized crime operates this type of extortion, with applications that lend money with rates of up to 200% interest and an endless chain of threats, bursts of phone calls and even posting on the networks themselves victim’s social media with intimidating messages.

THE UNIVERSAL had access to various messages through Whatsapp received by the victims. Because the application practically took control of the phone, it can activate the GPS and know where the client is and threaten to come with a command to their home, harm their families or send photos of dismembered bodies, warning that it will happen to them the same if they do not pay in the established time.

“Wanted for fraud,” says one of the lighter threats, accompanied by the victim’s photo, asking her contacts to help locate her, since she owes money and is involved in a problem that can even lead her to prison.

“You have to pay your loan in three hours. If the gang doesn’t see the money, you won’t see your adorable son. ” “An HIV friend will go to your house to rape his whole family,” reads another threatening message. In other cases, bullying is full of insults, seizure warnings, or the offer to pay off the debt by transporting drugs.

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“I’ll be doing this until they give me the authorization to send you rape you and your whole damn family, you are going to pay me whatever (sic),” says another of the threats.

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Because the fraud operators use phone chips that are purchased at convenience stores or on the street, the number becomes untraceable.

On the subject, Facebook said that its policies do not allow fraud or deception, with the content reported or identified that deliberately misleads and is intended to defraud people to obtain a economic benefit will be deleted.

“We use a combination of community reporting, human screening and review technology to enforce our policies. Also, we work with the authorities when necessary, to report the people behind these activities, ”Facebook told EL UNIVERSAL.

Faced with this type of practice, the firm highlighted the elimination of 1.7 billion false accounts between April and June 2021.

“We have a dedicated team that works every day, 24 hours a day, to detect and block fake accounts, as well as to act on content that is reported and that violates our rules. Today, we have more than 35 thousand people who work in security. Additionally, we work with security experts such as the Citizen Council of Mexico City and companies such as Citibanamex to launch campaigns and tools that keep Facebook users safe ”, highlighted the social network.

The operation

In Defense of the Debtor has tracked down some of these firms that offer loans. When they do have a record, it has nothing to do with the financial sector.

“Some are registered as SA de CV. In one case, we found that it was registered as a cosmetics company,” said Sánchez.

In 80% of the cases the loan does occur. In a matter of minutes, when the application is downloaded, the victim is led to obtain a loan of 300 or 800 pesos. Then he is led to download more applications, which practically take control of the phone and can grant larger loans, of 5,000 or 8,000 pesos. In other cases, there is never a deposit of money when downloading the application, but in a matter of a few days the extortion begins.

“The problem is that when we download the application, we have already started to give it permissions and authorizations, from the control of the microphone, the camera, the GPS and the contacts. They also download all the references that there may be from more social networks and they mess with the contacts in a flagrant violation of people’s privacy, ”Sánchez explained.

“We have had testimonies of photographs with too explicit content, and they upload them to their own Facebook and with that they extort money. They have no modesty. They can upload the photo with sexual content and, if they see photos of the family members, they make a collage and send it to all the contacts ”.

No legal framework

By not having any type of registration in the financial system, nor the National Banking and Securities Commission (CNBV) or the National Commission for the Protection and Defense of Users of Financial Services (Condusef) can act against this type of practice. Thus, the affected person is completely defenseless, since there is not even someone to file a complaint against.

On the subject, the president of the Condusef, Oscar Rosado, explained that due to the cut and style of the criminal groups, the fraud would fall into the scheme called drop by drop, that is, a loan offered by individuals and that in Mexico was applied in recent months by South Americans, in which they guarantee a loan, but daily they increase the interest rate and the collection is done through extortion and threats.

“The Condusef only receives complaints against authorized financial institutions. Most of these express credit issues is fraud, ”said the official.

In Defense of the Debtor seeks to collectively denounce this type of practice. So far, 600 people have reported that they have been victims of this type of fraud.

“We could present evidence of one thousand to two thousand people, which we manage to integrate, under a letter presented to the Condusef as a generic collective complaint. All converge on this terror and violence generated by these unregulated digital loan applications. We are testing to see if, to some extent, you can attract attention and make it public, “he explained.

Among the objectives, it stands out to bring the issue before legislators to seek the design of laws that combat this type of fraud that affects low-income populations in times of economic crisis due to the pandemic of Covid-19.

Recommendations

The president of the Condusef summarizes in one sentence the warning to users: if they ask you for money to make a loan, it is a fraud.

“Under this premise it is very easy to detect if it is a fraud. If you are asked to deposit money in an account for credit research, bonds, etc. ‘, it is plain and simple a hoax. Serious institutions don’t ask for money up front to lend you money, ”he said.

For its part, Facebook said that, as in any public space, the participation of users on the internet is important to maintain a safe community, thus inviting users of the social network to report any activity suspected of fraud.

“Some of the things you have to pay attention to if you want to detect fraud are people who ask you for money and you do not meet in person or who ask or offer money and / or gifts, or who threaten to delete or ban their account From Facebook. Anyone who asks you to pay a fee to apply for a job, “Facebook said.

Along the same lines of recommendations, the firm recalled that users should not accept friend requests from people they do not know, in addition to being careful with friend requests from accounts that claim to be friends or family, and avoid sharing intimate photos, especially if they have identifiable features.

Never share sensitive information, like bank accounts or social security numbers. Facebook pages and profiles Instagram representing large companies, organizations, or public figures are usually verified by a blue badge next to their name. If you spot an unverified ad on a large brand’s page or profile, it’s important to be vigilant. When it comes to small and medium businesses, check the comments in the publications and the date of creation of the page or commercial profile ”, he added.

Facebook asked to be careful with accounts or people who direct to a site outside the platform or require actions to obtain a prize.
“It is also important to check if the external URL (site address) looks weird or has spelling mistakes. Products and services with prices below the average that require a specific payment method, deserve special attention. Be careful with people who suggest you take the conversation off the platform ”, he highlighted.

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