Google has removed 17 apps from the Google Play Store for exploiting Indian users with fake loans and mental distress. These loan apps termed as “SpyLoan” apps, were tricking users with predatory loans and then stealing their data.
How SpyLoan Apps Work?
This type of loan scam has increased in recent days. According to the researchers, these apps are used to trick users into taking a loan with fake terms and conditions. Additionally, their app is designed to access all the unnecessary permissions to your phone. However, since the user has to allow these permissions, the company tricks the user into granting it.
Once permission is obtained, the app can then steal all the personal data and pieces of information like contacts, photos, browsing history, SMS messages, etc. And then using the same information, they’ll blackmail the user by leaking the information or harassing them. All this is done in the name of paying back the loan, which has unbelievably high rates.
Where are these SpyLoan Apps Operated?
These loan apps were operational in countries like India, Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico, Indonesia, Colombia, Egypt, Kenya, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, and Nigeria. Researchers also believe that over 12 million people have downloaded these apps. Out of which millions have fallen victim leading to Google banning these apps.
And also it’s not like the average user is so easy to get tricked. These apps are extra smart, by disguising themselves as real loan apps. It’s hard to believe these apps are fake based on the design and everything. The realisation comes only after the loan is processed and they start harassing you for repayment. And since the app has exploited your permissions and stole your data. It becomes difficult to get out of the situation due to constant blackmailing.
Higher Interests and Shorter Repayment Period
Moreover, the interest rates for these loans were so exorbitantly high with short repayment periods that it was almost impossible to pay. These apps willingly charge these high rates, knowing the user may not be able to repay. Additionally, the repayment period is also shorter than the advertisement. Basically, they were targetting people who needed quick cash, and they were mostly from small households.
The Impact of SpyLoan Apps
The impact of such practice is devastating for the person as well as their family. There have been cases where people have taken their lives under the pressure of loan repayment. Also, these company uses the stolen data to call the victim’s contact and harass them as well. In some cases, they also morphed the images of the user into something inappropriate. Then they’ll blackmail them into releasing those images to the victim’s family or friends. This can also lead to the victim doing something terrible to himself or around him/her.
Google Banned Over 200 SpyLoan Apps
Due to all this, Google has over the year banned over 200 SpyLoan apps from the Google Play Store. But new SpyLoan apps are popping up on the platform all the time. And it’s difficult to find and ban them in time. That is why users should become responsible in such cases. We should be very careful of the apps we download and not provide any unnecessary permissions. Also, when it comes to loan apps, we should be extra careful from the beginning.