Police nab almost 200 loan shark, scam suspects

Police have arrested 114 people for their suspected involvement in loan shark activities, in a three-day operation that ended on Wednesday.

The 83 men and 31 women were nabbed after officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the six police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids at multiple locations, police said yesterday. The suspects are between 17 and 67 years old.

According to preliminary investigations, 23 of the suspects are believed to be runners who assisted the loan sharks by carrying out ATM transfers and collecting debts in person.

Two were arrested for alleged acts of loan-shark harassment by splashing paint and scrawling loan shark-related graffiti on walls.

The remaining 89 suspects are believed to have opened bank accounts and given their ATM cards and personal identification numbers to loan sharks to facilitate their unlicensed moneylending.

Investigations are ongoing.

Those found guilty for the first time of carrying out or assisting with the business of unlicensed moneylending may be fined between $30,000 and $300,000, jailed for up to four years and caned up to six strokes.

First-time offenders found guilty of acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender or committing or attempting to commit acts of harassment face a jail term of up to five years, as well as a fine of between $5,000 and $50,000, and between three and six strokes of the cane.

In another operation from Monday to Wednesday, 81 people were arrested for their suspected involvement in 244 cases of scams that had to do with more than $1.4 million.

The suspects - 46 men and 35 women, aged between 16 and 65 - are being investigated for cheating or money laundering.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2017, with the headline 'Police nab almost 200 loan shark, scam suspects'. Print Edition | Subscribe