Case needs multinational investigation, says Nepal DIG

Nepal DIG Says India, Nepal and China Should Unite and Help Each Other in Mobile Loan Scam Investigation

DIG Tek Prasad Rai, Nepal Police Information Officer

Chinese citizens setting up illegal call centers in Nepal Targeting Indians through instant loan applications has become a sore spot for law enforcement authorities in Kathmandu. Nepalese authorities said that the police cannot do much against the chinese citizens as they don’t bother the locals. DIG Tek Prasad Rai, an information officer with the Nepal Police, said that better coordination between India, Nepal and China can curb cybercrime.

In response to a series of midday reports, Nepalese police have raided three illegal call centers in the past two weeks and arrested 190 people, including five Chinese and two Indian nationals. DIG Rai said that the staff of the call centers, local Nepalis, were hired under the guise of promotional activities, but were forced to abuse the Indian borrowers and blackmail them with transformed images to extort them. Interview excerpts:

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Midday Faizan Khan with DIG Tek Prasad Rai at Nepal Police Headquarters in Kathmandu
Midday Faizan Khan with DIG Tek Prasad Rai at Nepal Police Headquarters in Kathmandu

How is it that illegal call centers have been operating right under the noses of the Nepal Police and gone unnoticed for over 2 years?
It is not true that these centers are running right under our noses. The call center was registered under the Companies Act in Nepal and the Chinese citizens arrived on business visas. The centers were approved for commercial purposes, but were given over to illegal activities. It is not the first time that we carry out raids in these centers. First [raid] It happened in December 2019 when more than 120 Chinese citizens were deported. The centers targeted only Indian citizens by providing easy loans. We have maintained our surveillance of these centers.

Why are Chinese citizens not prosecuted in Nepal, instead of being deported back to their country of origin?
How can we act? When there is no complaint, how can we act? They use such technology that it is very difficult to recover the data, but this time we have taken this problem very seriously knowing the type of trauma that these centers have created for the Indian citizens. We have also shared the details with the Indian government, which may be useful for the Indian police forces to investigate their cases as part of a larger conspiracy. We are currently investigating them for creating a public nuisance. If we get victims from India, we will be able to invoke strict sections of the existing laws.

What is the biggest obstacle in your research?
As I said, there are no complaints related to the digital loan application cases, but I see that this case requires an international investigation where India, China and Nepal can help each other to stop this cyber crime. Here the groups are using our territory to target other nations.

What is the current status of your case?
We cannot reveal the details of the ongoing investigation, but it is moving in the right direction; we are waiting for the forensic reports; and the matter is being investigated by the special branch, the Cyber ​​Bureau and the local police.

What measures have been taken against locals who have rented out their premises to these Chinese nationals despite knowing about their illegal work?
Not everyone is aware of the activity, but in some centers we have found the collusion of the owner of the premises and we will take action against them as required by law.

What reason do you see behind many Chinese citizens coming to Nepal and setting up call centers for the sole purpose of targeting Indians?
There are many reasons. One is that they can’t run this in India because if a case is reported, the Indian authorities will go after them. The other is that if they are targeting Indians from Nepal, it will be difficult for the Nepalese police to act without filing a complaint.

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