95 suspected of loan shark activities arrested in three days: Police

Police have arrested 95 people suspected of being involved in loan shark activities after a three-day islandwide blitz.
Police have arrested 95 people suspected of being involved in loan shark activities after a three-day islandwide blitz.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Near to 100 people suspected of being involved in loan shark activities were arrested this week, police said.

The 95 suspects, aged 16 to 59, were nabbed in a three-day islandwide blitz that ended on Wednesday (Jan 25).

They include 65 men and 30 women.

Six suspects are believed to be "runners" who help the loan sharks collect debts and carry out ATM transfers, while one is believed to have provided false contact information when obtaining loans.

Two others are suspected of harassing debtors by splashing paint and scrawling loan shark-related graffiti on walls.

The remaining 86 suspects are believed to have opened bank accounts and given away their ATM cards and personal identification numbers to loan sharks to facilitate their unlicensed moneylending businesses.

Investigations against all the suspects are ongoing, police said in a statement on Thursday (Jan 26).

"When a bank account or ATM card of any person is used to facilitate moneylending by an unlicensed moneylender, that person is presumed to have assisted in the carrying on the business of unlicensed moneylending," said police.

First-time offenders found guilty of assisting in the business of unlicensed moneylending may be fined between $30,000 and $300,000, be jailed up to four years and caned up to six strokes.

First-time offenders found guilty of acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender, committing or attempting to commit any acts of harassment shall be jailed up to five years, fined between $5,000 and $50,000, and caned between three and six strokes.

Any person convicted of providing false contact information to obtain loans from loan sharks can be jailed up to 12 months.

Police said it "will continue to take tough enforcement action against those involved in the loan sharking business, regardless of their roles, and they will face the full brunt of the law."

It advised members of public to stay away from loan sharks.

The public can call 999 or the X-Ah Long hotline at 1800-924-5664 if they suspect or know of anyone who could be involved in illegal loan sharking activities.