Coronavirus: Loan sharks using fake stay-home notice enforcement ads to recruit runners to harass debtors

Those found guilty of assisting in the business of unlicensed moneylending can be fined between $30,000 and $300,000, jailed for up to four years, and receive up to six strokes of the cane.
Those found guilty of assisting in the business of unlicensed moneylending can be fined between $30,000 and $300,000, jailed for up to four years, and receive up to six strokes of the cane.PHOTOS: SINGAPORE POLICE

SINGAPORE - Loan sharks have been posting fake job advertisements on online marketplaces and social media to recruit people to harass debtors under the guise of enforcing coronavirus stay-home notices, the police warned on Wednesday (May 6).

This comes after the police said last month that illegal moneylenders were harassing debtors through food deliveries amid the circuit breaker period, when people are discouraged from leaving their homes except for essential needs or to exercise.

The police said on Wednesday that they are investigating four men and two women who are suspected of helping unlicensed moneylenders after they delivered harassment notes to debtors or conducted fake Covid-19 home surveys during jobs supposedly to enforce Covid-19 stay-home notices.

The six, aged between 20 and 45, are being investigated under separate cases.

They had responded to fake online job offers on Carousell for a "Stay Home Personnel Checker", which promised wages of between $14 and $190 a day.

It is not clear whether they were aware that they were acting as the loan sharks' runners, but the police noted that none of them received any payment.

Loan sharks have taken to using unconventional methods during this period to harass their debtors.

On April 22, the police warned that illicit moneylenders were ordering large amounts of food, or making multiple orders a day, to be delivered to debtors or their relatives' homes.

The deliverymen would then request payment from the debtors for the food, and the food and beverage operators using the delivery service would incur losses when debtors could not or refused to foot the bill.

 
 

Those found guilty of assisting in the business of unlicensed moneylending can be fined between $30,000 and $300,000, jailed for up to four years, and receive up to six strokes of the cane.

"We will come down hard on loan shark harassment. Those who engage in such activities will be arrested and dealt with severely," the police added.