The public should consider the legal and logical aspects to avoid illegal loan service
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Si, 49, was disappointed, angry, and annoyed on finding out that his nephew had received a threatening message mentioning his uncle's name.

What started off as a small money loan taken from a financial technology (fintech) lender eventually led to SI's family being trapped and given death threats by the moneylender.

"Tell SI that if until this 12 noon, he has not paid his loan, I will kill all of his family. I will be posting his photo as a fugitive. Do not steal money from the application!," according to one of the short message services (SMS) threatening SI's nephew, T.

At the Directorate of Special Economic Crimes of the Criminal Investigation Unit of the National Police, Jakarta, on October 21, SI and T waited for an investigation into the illegal online lending case they had reported.

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SI was not offended on being threatened to pay his loan but was furious on finding out the lender had threatened all his family members as well.

He luckily did not commit suicide as was the case of a housewife, with the initials WPS, from Wonogiri. However, both are victims of illegal online lending. The application lets users to quickly borrow money of varying amounts.

Economic needs forced SI to seek loans through lending, without knowing the difference between legal and illegal means. All he knew was the online loan process was easy and fast, and the money was immediately disbursed into the account.

Little did he know that the Kredit Kilat application that he used, necessitated him to fill in his personal data, cell phone number, identity card number (NIK), and emergency number from his contacts.

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In filling out the emergency number, SI filled in his nephew's number without his knowledge. An emergency number is required for lenders to contact the borrower if the mobile number is not active.

In less than five minutes, SI received the loan funds into his bank account. However, from the total Rp1.4 million that he requested, he only received Rp925,000.

In addition, the tenor, or duration of the installment, which initially was 91 days, immediately changed to seven days after the loan funds entered the account.

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Feeling that he had been hoodwinked, SI was clueless about where to inquire and whom to approach, as the loan application that he had downloaded did not provide the features of consumer services or loan cancellations.

Since he had already received the money, SI did not pay much attention. He has planned to return the loan money when it is due, which was on the seventh day.

However, on the fifth day after having received the money, SI already started received a series of instant messages and calls from the loan application. In those messages, he was asked to immediately return the loan money. Terror was perpetrated in the messages and calls that continued to strike from different numbers every day.

The climax was on the seventh day when SI was surprised to receive a message from his nephew, stating that he had got a message threatening that their family will be killed if SI did not pay the loan.

SI suspects that not only his nephew but also 300 other phone contacts stored on his cell phone might have received such similar messages.

SI immediately regretted his decision to impulsively borrow money from the loan application. He does not want to burden his family by borrowing money from them, but instead, he had let his family down on account of the death threats sent by the loan application.

"The public really needs to be vigilant while seeking a loan. If you borrow money from people that you know, your family, or your cousin, they will not threaten you or intimidate you," he emphasized.

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Police's action

Based on his experience, SI called on the public to not hesitate to report to the police about threats from illegal lenders. Reports of fraud and threats of illegal lending will be followed up by the Directorate of Special Economic Crimes of the National Police Criminal Investigation Department.

Since 2020, the police's Criminal Investigation Unit has taken action on public reports related to this illegal online loan. The police confirmed 371 police reports pertaining to illegal lending from all across the region. Of this figure, only 91 cases were solved, while eight cases are already in the trial stage, and the rest are still under investigation.

Director of Special Economic Crimes, Brigadier General Helmy Santika, noted that investigation into the illegal loan case had a different characteristic for which the process may be different.

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Santika pressed for the investigation to be conducted properly and correctly. The police would expose the entire scheme of illegal loans right from SMS blasting to desk collection and also the founders of this business.

In addition, this technology-based non-banking financial service helps lenders to move around. They can control their application from abroad.

In June 2021, the Criminal Investigation Unit of the National Police unearthed the case of the illegal loan application called RPCepat. Five perpetrators were arrested, though the two main actors, who became the investors, specifically Chinese citizens, were still on the run.

In July 2021, eight perpetrators of illegal lending, under the name of the Cinta Damai Savings and Loans Cooperative (KSP), were arrested. From results of the investigation, this Cinta Damai Cooperative is affiliated with several other KSPs, including the Hidup Hijau KSP, Tur Saku KSP, Pulau Bahagia KSP, and several other online loans.

In October 2021, seven illegal loan desk collection operators were arrested in several areas in Jakarta. Of these seven perpetrators, one was a foreign national, with the initials as ZJ, who is on the police's fugitive list (DPO).

During the police investigation, it was found that the perpetrators of illegal loan lending used a fictitious company (PT) or Savings and Loans Cooperative (KSP) to operate an illegal loan application.

The Criminal Investigation Unit also found an application with subsidiary companies.

On account of this application, a housewife in Wonogiri decided to hang herself since she was in debt from 23 loan applications that she did not know about.

On October 22, the police arrested the perpetrators of illegal lending that capitalized on the establishment of PT or KSP to operate their illegal loan application.

The suspect, called JS, arrested by police officers, is a financier as well as a facilitator of Chinese citizens' financiers to operate an illegal loan.

"JS is a facilitator of Chinese citizens keen to invest in this illegal loan. She is also a recruiter to find the chairman of KSP and director of this fictitious PT," Santika informed.

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Legal and logical aspects

Head of the Public Information Section of the Public Relations Division of the National Police, Senior Commissioner, Ahmad Ramadhan, noted that a rise in the number of illegal loan cases had become a special concern for the National Police to conduct law enforcement.

The National Police has responded to President Joko Widodo, who expressed concern over the issue of illegal loans that causes significant harm and triggers disquiet in the community.

Ramadhan noted that apart from law enforcement efforts, the most important aspect to tackle this case is through preventive efforts.

Preventive efforts can be taken in the context of community education. Members of society should be aware of the dangers of illegal loans, as they should avoid it in future.

People looking to borrow money from lending services should check the legality of their providers through the Financial Service Authority (OJK) website.

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Some 161 legal loan providers are registered in the OJK. When an online loan provider is not registered, it should be ignored.

In addition, prevention, in the form of logical aspects, should be implemented. The public should not be easily tempted by loan offers. They should also be alerted if the loan provider requests permission to access cell phone data, including the contact numbers of users.

This data access is an illegal access gateway used by illegal loan lenders to collect debts by bullying and slandering and forcing customers to pay their loan.

Access to this data is also an opportunity to spread information of loan offers to other people.

"The public should consider the legal and logical aspects to avoid illegal loan service," Ramadhan emphasized.

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Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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