Our reporter travels to Kathmandu to reveal the inner workings of the mobile loan racket even as 200km away an office full of employees was dedicated to transforming images of borrowers to defame them
The canteen at the now-closed call center in Tinkune, Kathmandu, was cooking for 1,000 people a day
Mumbai was the main target of three call centers recently dismantled by the Nepalese police for instant loan applications. Executed by Chinese nationals, these call centers – at Tinkune and Thamel in Kathmandu and at Butwal in Rupandehi district – have sucked hundreds of millions of rupees out of India’s financial capital every month. The Nepali police action came after midday revealed the story of the instant loan app scam, followed by a series of reports.
Nepali police sources said the callers, or recovery officers, were paid between 55,000 and 1.5 lakh Nepalese rupees, equivalent to R34,000 and 94,000, each month. One of the call centers operated from Tinkuney, just 1 km from Tribhuvan International Airport in the Nepalese capital, while the other was in Thamel, a popular tourist spot 4 km from the airport. where 4 Chinese nationals were arrested on the third floor of a building.
Also read: Lending app scam: Digital loan companies tricked their own employees
The notice on the main gate
The size of Tinkune’s call center indicates the scale of Chinese loan shark operations. It accommodates 1,200 employees and ran a huge canteen that cooked for around 1,000 people a day, with a monthly cooking bill of 60 lakh Nepalese rupees.
Audio played at tea shop
A local resident who runs a teahouse near the Tinkuney call center said he knew employees were collecting loans from Indians. “Many of them would visit my tea stall and discuss work. Sometimes they would play the recordings of abuse filled calls made to Indian borrowers, but we had no idea what exactly was going on in the center calls until the police raided the scene,” he said.
Four Chinese nationals were arrested at a call center in this building in Thamel, Kathmandu
This caller found a security guard and a few guards at the call center, known as Sky World Service Center. “No one is allowed inside, it has been sealed off and no interviews are taking place here at this time. The owner has not been on the premises since searches were carried out,” the guard said. Tinkune has many commercial and residential areas and many call centers operate from this area due to its proximity to Kathmandu airport.The area is also known for the Nepal Oil Depot, a heavily guarded facility which is a few hundred meters from the call center raided by the police.
DIG Tek Prasad Rai, Information Officer, Nepal Police
Two Indians ran the show
Police sources said most of the call center workers had to call borrowers in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra. A 19-year-old Indian, Neha Gupta, was the call center group leader. “She was leading various groups and interrogating Nepali nationals who were well versed in Hindi and could communicate with Indians and threaten them for loan collection,” said a Kathmandu police officer familiar with the investigation. Gupta received a monthly salary of 65,000 Nepalese rupees and commissions based on recovery. Originally from Bihar, the young woman had been living in Kathmandu for a year.
Police during the raid on the Thamel call center in the Nepalese capital
Another Indian, identified as Manish Saini, 26, was the manager and was paid around 1 lakh plus commission. Saini, a source said, would provide the content and scripts to employees who would then target Indian borrowers. “We have kept them in jail and every angle of the case is being looked at by our team. We have sent hundreds of laptops and computers to the forensic team to retrieve data to get the details. what they were doing,” said Kathmandu police spokesman Dineshraj Mainali.
Butwal call center. The Chinese nationals behind are on the run
Sources said Gupta and Saini came to Nepal in February 2021 and joined the call center in November 2021. “The call center had been operating since January. We suspect that earlier other Indians were also working with the call center and later they moved to India to set up call centers there,” said a Nepali police officer who does not did not wish to be recorded.
The Chinese came in fancy cars
According to locals, Hu Yuehua was the head of the Tinkune call center. Now arrested, Hu visited the site once a week in high-end cars. “The police had been watching. On the day the Chinese national came for a routine visit, they raided the place and arrested 36 people including him and the Indians,” said a former employee who quit after learning the work was illegal. Yuehua came to Nepal at the same time as the Indians arrived.
Kathmandu Police Headquarters. Cops have arrested 190 people so far
Another Chinese haunt
The questioning of those arrested at the Tinkune call center led the police to that of Thamel, a famous tourist spot. This unnamed call center operated from the third floor of a building inside the grounds of the Vienna Hotel. The local market is also a hub for Nepalese clothing, stone jewelry, and tea. Most hotels in the area have a lively nightlife.
Sources said the entire building had been rented by Chinese nationals. It has offices for Chinese nationals related to architecture and a hospital for Chinese people. “During the raid, we arrested four Chinese nationals and seized 27 laptops and 472 mobile phones, 40 SIM cards and recharge vouchers worth 1.90,000 Nepalese rupees,” said an officer who was part of the raid team.
Manish Saini, an Indian, was a call center manager in Tinkune (right) Neha Gupta from Bihar worked as a group leader
When the mid-day team visited the place, we found the whole building empty. The guard said no staff had visited the call center since the raid. He said the area has a large Chinese population and many of them work in construction. “We are analyzing their seized cellphones and electronic gadgets and we believe that this center was supposed to collect details of monetary transactions and coordinate with other centers not only in Nepal but in India,” another officer said under cover of the incident. ‘anonymity. Kathmandu police did not invoke any articles of its cyber laws. Instead, they booked the suspects for creating public nuisance and obstruction where the maximum penalty is only one year with a fine of 10,000 Nepalese rupees. Violations are punishable by bail.
Specialists in morphed photos
Police arrested 150 people from Butwal town call center in Rupandehi district, 200 km from Kathmandu. It was operated on behalf of Blue Sky Call Center. “Most of the processed photographs sent to Indian borrowers to recover loan amount came from this call center. Employees were also sending promotional messages of loan applications and other cyber crimes were also taking place from this center” , said DIG Tek Prasad Rai, Nepali Police Information Officer.
Investigators found that this center was also run by Chinese nationals who may have been tipped off before the raids and were in hiding. Sources said Rupandehi and Kathmandu call centers are linked to each other. After setting up the call centers in Kathmandu and Rupandehi, sources say the masterminds of the scam only gave job offers in Nepal to Hindus. Most of the officers arrested received offers through an organization called Job Link.
Sources said many other call centers run by Chinese nationals are on the Nepali police’s radar, while a few closed after last week’s raids. “Our intelligence indicates that these centers are responsible for various cybercrimes in Nepal as well as in India.”
Number of Chinese nationals detained in Nepal so far
Tinkune Call Center Capacity