Ghana’s Rogue Loan Apps Syndicate Draws Massive Crackdown

By  |  July 14, 2023

In a collaborative operation spearheaded by the Cyber Security Authority, the Bank of Ghana, and the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), a massive crackdown on illicit loan app operators has resulted in the apprehension of over 420 individuals in Ghana. The concerted effort took place in the Greater Accra Region, where premises suspected of housing digital lending app operators were raided.

According to an official statement issued by the authority, “The three institutions joined forces to launch an operation on Monday, July 10, 2023, as part of their Joint Cybersecurity Committee initiative. The operation yielded the arrest of more than 420 suspects.” The arrested individuals are allegedly involved in a range of illegal activities, including cyberbullying, extortion, data and privacy misuse, and even issuing death threats in the most severe cases.

This significant crackdown comes after months of consistent public advisories from the authority, urging citizens to refrain from using mobile applications that are not sanctioned by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the Data Protection Agency. Reports had been received by the authority regarding incidents of cyberbullying inflicted upon users of digital lending mobile apps, which are often available on the Google Play Store or distributed through social media as Android Package files (APK).

The authority elaborated that these loan apps offer loans with varying interest rates and payment terms. However, when borrowers fail to repay, they are subjected to threats by the app owners. In some instances, their identities are exposed on various social media platforms and shared with their contacts, labelling them as wanted individuals or fraudsters.

In response to this pressing issue, the Bank of Ghana has taken steps to collaborate with Google, aiming to ensure the removal of illegal loan apps from the Google Play Store to prevent further accessibility by Ghanaians. Additionally, Ghanaians have been strongly advised by the bank to avoid clicking on Android Package (APK) files shared through social media, as this serves as a common avenue through which these illegal loan apps reach the public.

The Data Protection Commission has also issued a cautionary warning to the public, urging them to abstain from engaging with apps listed by the Bank of Ghana as illegal loan apps. By heeding these warnings and exercising vigilance, Ghanaians can protect themselves from falling victim to the illicit activities propagated by these rogue loan app operators.

Featured Image Credits: AfriWallStreet

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