In Mexico (and beyond) the traditional ‘gota a gota’ extortion scheme gave way to a new, app-based one.
How it works? One just needs one of the many easy credit apps that are around (many of them in the G-Play and A-store) which will ask for permission for the contacts and the gallery while installing.
This comes handy once the user received the initial funds and discover that it will be necesary to pay back five times the sum borrowed.
Of course it helps that these are operated by the serious side of the Mexican underworld.
The popularity of these apps based on the simple fact that these apps do not require any documentation to be submitted by the user and the transfer of the loan money takes place in less than 24 hours.
Then, interest fees will go up rapidly with little to no warning, in some instances, up to 500 percent of the value of the original loan.
If a user cannot pay this back, the owners of the app use the access they have gained to the user’s personal details to issue threats or contact loved ones. Threats range from publishing photos, taking over social media accounts to outright warnings of an impeding dismemberment if not paying up.
According to Mexico’s National Commission for the Protection of Financial Service Users (Comisión Nacional para la Protección y Defensa de los Usuarios de Servicios Financieros – Condusef), at least 33,000 people have fallen victim to these scams so far this year. This is unsurprising considering as many as 130 such express cash apps have popped up in the country. They bait customers by advertising on social media and claiming that no credit history is needed.
Even Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO for short, who is Mexico’s president acknowledged that there is trouble.
The traditional gota a gota loan sharking had been replaced by the new apps first in Colombia then in Brazil, where it led to kidnappings in such a scale that the central bank made transfers delayed beyond 24 hours or more when such an application is involved.
And now, the so-called Montadeudas reached Mexico, the land of the Cartels big time.