AP couple die by suicide, allegedly harassed by loan app officers with tweaked photos
The couple, who are said to have been threatened by altered visuals of the woman, are survived by two daughters aged four and two.
A Rajahmundry couple from Andhra Pradesh committed suicide on Wednesday, September 7, allegedly due to harassment by recovery officers from a loan application. Durga Rao and his wife Ramya Lakshmi allegedly borrowed around 30,000 rupees from loan apps and were harassed by recovery agents with threats to share videos and photos that looked like nude visuals of Ramya. A relative of the couple said they paid a few installments of around Rs 2,000 but they continued to face threats, where their morphed visuals were shared with relatives and acquaintances. The couple are survived by two daughters, aged four and two.
This is a common modus operandi of lending apps that have sprouted across the country and become popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. These loan apps, mostly owned by Chinese people, offer loans ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 20,000, at huge interest rates, but without requiring extensive verification. However, to qualify for these loans, users must agree to share their personal data on their phones, such as access to contacts and their picture gallery, before the money can be transferred. Later, if the user does not repay the loan or there is a delay in payment, recovery methods often include contacting the people on the victim’s contact list and informing them of the loan, transform images of victims into nude photos, etc.
Read also : Made in China: How the instant loan app racket exploded in India
Reportedly, Durga Rao who hailed from Labbarthi village (now under Alluri Sitharama Raju district) moved to Rajahmundry about ten years ago and married Ramya about six years ago. Durga Rao did painting jobs for a living and Ramya did sewing jobs. Police said they borrowed about Rs 30,000 and partially repaid the amount, according to The New Indian Express. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has ordered officials to take action against lending apps operating in violation of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) standards.
Andhra Pradesh Women’s Commission Chairman Vasireddy Padma, YSRCP MP Margani Bharat and East Godavari District Collector K Madhavi Latha visited the deceased couple’s children and handed over a check for 10 lakh Rs to their tutors. Vasireddy Padma instructed the Department of Women’s Development and Child Welfare to make arrangements to care for the children. Speaking to the media, she advised people who are being harassed due to loan apps to use mechanisms such as the Disha app to seek help. âPeople should not kill themselves in a hurry because of shame. The government and the Women’s Commission will support these people in every way,â she said.