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Chinese Loan App Case: ED Freezes Rs 46.67 Crore Worth Funds Of Payment Gateway Apps

 

The Enforcement Directorate has carried out raids against Chinese “controlled” loan apps and investment tokens. The ED froze Rs. 46.67 cr. worth funds kept at the Bengaluru premise of payment gateways accounts of Easybuzz, Razorpay, Cashfree, and Paytm in connection with the HPZ token case over alleged irregularities in the operation of instant app-based loan-giving companies that are controlled by Chinese personals. The funds have been frozen and seized under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The investigation was carried out on September 14th at various business and residential premises in Delhi, Ghaziabad, Mumbai, Lucknow, and Gaya over the money laundering case probed against an app-based token named HPZ and related entities. The case is based on an FIR filed in October 2021, registered by the Kohima police’s cybercrime unit in Nagaland.

According to the ED, the HPZ token was an app-based token that lured victims to invest in the company, promising a doubling of their investments and large gains to the customers against investments by investing in mining machines in bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies.

“Payments were received from users through UPIs and other payment gateways/ nodal gateways/ individuals. Part amount was paid back to the investors and remaining amount was diverted to various individuals and company accounts through various payment gateways/ banks from where partly it was siphoned off in digital/virtual currencies. After that, the fraudsters stopped the payments and the website became inaccessible” states the ED.

Allegedly, the companies sourced the personal data of the victims at the time of downloading the loan apps even when their interest rates were “unsurious”. ED thus initiated a probe under the criminal sections of the PMLA after many debtors reportedly ended their lives. The debtors were being harassed and threatened by these loan app companies over the personal data available on their phones. The ED claims, that one such Loan app entity, labeled M/s Mad- Elephant Network Technology Private Limited in an agreement with X10 Financial Services Limited was operating several loan apps, namely Yo-Yo cash, Tufan Rupees, Coco cash, etc.) Similarly, Su Hui Technology Private Limited, in agreement with M/s Nimisha Finance India Private Limited, had operated loan apps.

In a meeting held on September 8, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman reviewed the issues pertaining to the illegal loan apps. The meeting was attended by top officials from the ministry and RBI officials. It is being decided that appropriate measures shall be taken to check the operations of such apps. 

How Australia’s Leader Lost Control of His Chinese Social Media Account

 

After Prime Minister Scott Morrison's WeChat account was hacked, a Liberal member of parliament accused the Chinese government of foreign intervention. 

"It is a matter of record that the platform has stopped the Prime Minister's access, while Anthony Albanese's account is still active featuring posts criticising the government," Liberal representative Gladys Liu stated

"In an election year especially, this sort of interference in our political processes is unacceptable, and this matter should be taken extremely seriously by all Australian politicians." 

Liu stated she would stop utilizing her professional and personal WeChat accounts until the platform presented an explanation for the incident as part of her accusations against the Chinese government. 

Several Coalition members have supported Liu's charges and boycott, with Liberal Senator James Paterson, chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, asking for Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese to boycott WeChat as well. 

The Prime Minister's office is attempting to contact the Chinese government regarding the account hijacking, according to Stuart Robert, the Minister responsible for digital transformation, who told The Today Show on Monday morning. 

"It is odd, and of course, the Prime Minister's office is seeking to connect through to them to work out and get it resolved," Robert said. 

Morrison's WeChat account was apparently changed and he had accessibility issues months ago, according to NewsCorp Australia, with the Prime Minister being unable to access the account at all.

Morrison's account is linked to a Chinese national based in Fujian, according to Australian Strategic Policy Institute senior analyst Fergus Ryan, because WeChat's policies at the time mandated accounts to be linked to the ID of a Chinese national or a business registered in China. 

A Tencent spokesman confirmed to ZDNet on Monday evening that the account was originally registered by a PRC individual, but that it is currently being managed by a technology services organisation. 

"Based on our information, this appears to be a dispute over account ownership -- the account in question was originally registered by a PRC individual and was subsequently transferred to its current operator, a technology services company -- and it will be handled in accordance with our platform rules," the Tencent spokesperson said. 

"Tencent is committed to upholding the integrity of our platform and the security of all users accounts, and we will continue to look into this matter." 

According to ABC News, Morrison's WeChat account was sold to Fuzhou 985 Information Technology in November of last year by the registered owner. 

The Chinese corporation allegedly purchased the social media account since it had roughly 75,000 followers and had no idea it was owned by Morrison. 

WeChat has been subjected to increasing restrictions in China, after being placed on notice last year for gathering more user data than was considered essential while providing services.

Chinese Android Game Developer Exposes Data of Over 1 Million Gamers

 

The Chinese developers of famous Android gaming applications exposed user information via an unprotected server. As per the report shared by vpnMentor's cybersecurity team, headed by Noam Rotem and Ran Locar, identified EskyFun as the owner of a 134GB server exposed and made public online.

Rainbow Story: Fantasy MMORPG, Adventure Story, The Legend of the Three Kingdoms, and Metamorph M are among the Android games developed by EskyFun. 

According to the team on Thursday, the users of the following games were included in the data leak and altogether they have over 1.6 million downloads combined: 
-Rainbow Story: Fantasy MMORPG
-Metamorph M
-Dynasty Heroes: Legends of Samkok u 

According to the researchers, the supposed 365,630,387 records included data from June 2021 onwards, exposing user data gathered on a seven-day rolling basis. 

As per the team, when their software is downloaded and installed, the developers impose aggressive and highly troubling monitoring, analytics, and permissions settings, and as a consequence, the variety of data gathered was considerably more than one would imagine mobile games to need. 

The records constituted IP and IMEI data, device information, phone numbers, the operating system in use, mobile device event logs, whether or not a smartphone was rooted; game purchase and transaction reports, email addresses, EskyFun account passwords, and support requests. 

vpnMentor estimates that up to or more than, one million users' information may have been compromised. 

On July 5, the unprotected server was detected, and EskyFun was approached two days later. However, after receiving no answer, vpnMentor tried again on July 27. 

Due to the continued inaction, the team was forced to contact Hong Kong CERT, and the server was safeguarded on July 28. 

The researchers commented, "Much of this data was incredibly sensitive, and there was no need for a video game company to be keeping such detailed files on its users. Furthermore, by not securing the data, EskyFun potentially exposed over one million people to fraud, hacking, and much worse."

Indians to use VPN as a way to evade ban on Chinese Apps


It seems like people have found a way to circumvent government's ban on 59 Chinese Apps including favorites like TikTok, Share it, Shien, Clash of Kings, and many more and have moved on to use VPN (Virtual Private Network) to access these apps.


Right after the ban announcement by government companies like SatoshiVPNS put an advert on their social media stating, Ann investment in a VPN is an investment that always pays for itself — many times over.” There have been articles on blabberpost and others recommending how and which VPN to use to access the banned applications.

And it's not the first time Indians have turned to VPN to dodge regulations, in fact, we are quite notorious when it comes to VPN. After Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea - the largest telecom providers in the country- took down porn websites from their network, India fell only three steps from 12 to 15 in terms of visitors to Pornhub. A 2019 report from Pornhub revealed that 91% of Indian users access the site via mobile phone.

 Since February, India has seen a growth of 15% in VPN usage, according to a report by ExpressVPN; the global average stands at 21%. 

By the books, using VPN is not illegal in India for as much as it's not used for any illegal activity. The most common use of a VPN in the country is either to watch pornography or to access torrents and both of these do not summon legal actions.

Since the suspension of Internet service from August 2019 till March 2020 in the Kashmir Valley and the aftermath of weak 2g and 3g networks, many citizens turned to VPN in order to reach blocked content Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. The government even arrested some for using VPN to promote unlawful activities.
after the ban, Google and Apple App Store removed TikTok and Helo for Indian users but other banned apps like Browsers, Club Factory, Shein, ShareIT, and Clash of Kings are still listed on both the stores.