As part of its investigation into the “call money” racket, Vijayawada Police on Saturday arrested a 47-year-old private financier, who allegedly harassed hundreds of Railways and state government employees after lending them money.
Police said Komireddy Venkat Subbareddy, a native of Gudivada, has mobile phone stores at his native place Gudivada and Vijayawada. He allegedly ran the money-lending business from the Vijayawada premises. Police said Subbareddy agreed on a certain rate of interest while lending money, but allegedly charged exorbitant rates later using threats.
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Assistant Commissioner Prakash Babu, who is investigating the “call money” case, said: “He has been lending money to government employees since several years and charges 120 to 200 per cent interest. His modus operandi is to lend money after taking promissory notes, blank cheques, bank passbooks and stamp papers as surety. Recently, he started taking the ATM cards of the borrowers’ salary accounts.”
He added: “Subbareddy would withdraw money from the borrowers’ accounts saying that it was interest due on the amount he lent them. He would leave behind only a little amount in the account.”
Babu alleged that in some instances, a person who borrowed Rs 50,000 ended up paying more than Rs 1.50 lakh to Subbareddy. “People did not dare to lodge complaints because he would threaten them with physical harm. Most of the borrowers are single women and widows,” he said.
Police sources said that if the borrowers refused to pay the exorbitant interests, Subbareddy would allegedly send them court notices using benami names. This would scare victims, they added.
The sources further said Subbareddy would lend only to government employees because they have a steady income and have separate salary accounts.
During the raid at his Vijayawada premises, 1,469 promissory notes, 911 blank cheques, 59 passbooks, 83 ATM cards and six stamp papers were recovered, said police, adding that they have so far identified 300 people who borrowed money from Subbareddy.
Andhra Pradesh police have so far arrested or detained 260 private financiers in a statewide crackdown on an illegal money-lending system known as “call money”. The name comes from the fact that in the “call money” system, a borrower just calls a financier and the money is delivered at the doorstep.