Eighty-six suspects have been apprehended for allegedly running an Internet loan fraud that entrapped more than 10,000 people around the country, Shanghai police said yesterday.
The victims were defrauded out of 630 million yuan (US$97 million).
Police in Fengxian District began their investigation in May after finding that several residents of the district had borrowed money from Internet platforms and ended up deeply in debt to the companies that loaned them money.
The Internet loan platforms, operated through 23 mobile apps, were developed by a tech company in Jiangsu Province and then sold to people who advertised low-interest loan services to the victims.
Others were engaged to handle the illegal income through 41 bank accounts, according to police.
When installing the apps on their phones, the victims provided access to their phone contact lists, enabling the perpetrators to harass them in a variety of ways.
The victims were charged loan extension fees of 20 percent per day if they couldn’t pay off the loans in time, a condition they were unaware of when borrowing the money.
The borrowers were bombarded by calls from the perpetrators, as well as ads for other fraudulent loan platforms from which they could borrow more money to cover their old debts.
Female debtors were told they would be sent edited pictures of naked woman with their faces superimposed.
Under the “soft violence” exerted by the perpetrators, many victims saw their debts quickly snowball. The suspects were rounded up in five cities and provinces last month.