113 people under investigation for loan shark activities after week-long blitz

Preliminary investigations revealed that 12 suspects had allegedly harassed debtors at their residences. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A total of 113 people, aged 16 to 69, are under investigation for their suspected involvement in unlicensed moneylending activities.

This comes after a week-long operation which was conducted between May 23 and Monday (May 30), said the police in a statement on Tuesday.

During the operations, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and the seven police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids islandwide.

Preliminary investigations revealed that 12 suspects had allegedly harassed debtors at their residences, and 17 suspects are believed to be runners who had assisted in unlicensed moneylending businesses by carrying out automated teller machine (ATM) transfers.

The remaining 84 suspects are believed to have opened bank accounts and provided their ATM cards, personal identification numbers and/or Internet banking tokens to unlicensed moneylenders to facilitate unlicensed moneylending, said the statement.

A person is presumed to have assisted in carrying on the business of unlicensed moneylending when a bank account, ATM card or Internet banking token of any person is used to facilitate moneylending by an unlicensed moneylender.

Those convicted of carrying on or assisting in a business of unlicensed moneylending face jail of up to four years, a fine of between $30,000 and $300,000, and up to six strokes of the cane.

For acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender to commit or attempt to commit any acts of harassment, an offender faces jail of up to five years, a fine of between $5,000 and $50,000, and between three and six strokes of the cane.

Unlicensed moneylenders are increasingly using text messaging or online platforms to send unsolicited loan advertisements, said the police statement.

"Members of the public are reminded not to reply or respond to such advertisements and to report these messages as spam," it added.

The public can call the police on 999 or the "X-Ah Long" hotline on 1800-924-5664 if they suspect or know of anyone who could be involved in unlicensed moneylending activities.

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