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Vikash Sharma

The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Odisha Crime Branch has arrested Ram Shriram Pathade, managing director of Mahagram Payments Pvt. Ltd in connection with the illegal loan App case. Pathade, a resident of Sonam Heights, Mumbai, was arrested on Wednesday from Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi.

The accused, in connivance with Md. Javed Sahifi, the director of IWT-India, Tarun Kumar Dudeja, proprietor of several dubious/shell companies like Digital Batua, Bacchat Online and others, was involved in the business of illegal/ abusive digital loan apps like KOKO and JOJO loan without any authority. These companies were reportedly providing instant digital loans to needy persons.

Co-accused Md. Javed Saifi, the proprietor of IWT-India, and Tarun Kumar Dudeja were earlier arrested in this case and an amount of around Rs 6.57 crore lying in accounts of M/s Mahagram Payment Pvt. Ltd. was frozen.

“Once the App was downloaded, small amounts ranging from Rs.3,000 to Rs.10,000 was credited to the customer’s bank account after. Within a week, the customer/borrower was asked to repay the amount with excessive rate of interest. On denial to pay the high rate of interest, the concerned customer was humiliated/ bullied in many ways,” EOW said in a release.

As per EOW, obscene messages and indecent pictures along with abusive texts were also sent to the customers’ WhatsApp numbers and their contact list as a coercive measure to recover the loan amount with interest. The process of recovery is so overbearing and humiliating that there have been some instances of the customers committing suicide.

“The accused’s company was lending money from its payout account maintained with a payment gateway. But for repayment by the borrowers, the amount was being remitted through other shell companies/ accounts but ultimately landing at Mahagrama Payments Pvt Ltd,” EOW said.

It has been ascertained that there are about 1058 such virtual accounts created by M/s Mahagram Payments Pvt. Ltd. through which the repayment amounts of the borrowers are channelized through payment gateway. All the virtual accounts have been blocked.

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