In Colombia, the usurious loan is now just a click away
Colombia’s long-standing usurious loan tactic known as “gota a gota” has entered the digital age, as Mafias now use mobile apps to hide money transfers, bill customers and threaten those. who cannot pay.
The ‘gota a gota’ or ‘drip’ tactic – named for the way victims are slowly drained of their funds – involves lending small amounts of money to high interest rates people who have difficulty obtaining traditional loans. Money often comes from illegal activities, including drug trafficking.
SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles
In the past, criminal groups used storefronts to find customers and physical cards to track debts. But police say criminal groups have abandoned this archaic method in favor of mobile apps that make it much easier to reach and interact with their vulnerable customers, El Heraldo reported.
The authorities have long combated traditional “gota a gota” operations, and the digitization of this extortion method complicates this task by giving debt collectors a new, easy way to access, bill and track their victims.
The apps record payment dates, new payments, interest, loan status, and other details. In some cases, applications even have access to debtor profiles and locations. Providing such information puts debtors in a dangerous situation as they are often threatened, robbed, attacked or even killed when they cannot pay.
Meanwhile, authorities have struggled to curb the practice of “gota a gota”, as victims are often afraid to speak out.
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The ease of use of the new mobile phone applications will provide new customers to the mafias in the “gota a gota” loan sharking industry, which has proved particularly lucrative for criminal groups looking for ways to diversify their sources of income and. to launder money.
While “gota a gota” began in Colombia, he has since migrated to a number of countries in the region – Mexico, Peru and Chile. Same Costa Rica, which has managed to avoid some of the evils of its Central American neighbors, has seen these loans take off due to an influx of money from drug trafficking.
In addition, cell phone technology has developed considerably extortion rackets throughout Latin America. A cheap phone and a few dollars in prepaid credit are the rudimentary tools to get into the game.
SEE ALSO: Extensive extortion coverage
The “gota a gota” method, however, usually requires the backing mafias, who have the capital to engage in the loan sharking business and the ability to follow the money. And the apps are easy to find.
A search of app stores by InSight Crime found several of these apps available for free, some of which directly referenced “I have loans” in their names.
What makes using these apps alarming is the amount of information customers have to provide, including detailed personal information. It just makes it easier for debt collectors to threaten victims. Why send armed thugs to debtors’ doorsteps when a simple WhatsApp message – with their exact location or that of their loved ones – will suffice?
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