SINGAPORE - A total of 123 people have been arrested this week for their involvement in loan-shark activities such as acting as runners and splashing paint on victims' walls.
In a three-day operation from Monday (Oct 23) to Wednesday, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the six police divisions conducted simultaneous raids across Singapore.
They arrested 76 men and 33 women in this first operation.
Fourteen of them are believed to be runners who carried out ATM transactions on behalf of loan sharks. They also got hold of ATM cards so loan-shark syndicates could use them.
Another five suspects are believed to have harassed victims by splashing paint and writing loan shark-related graffiti on walls.
One other suspect is believed to have given false information in order to obtain a loan.
The other 89 suspects are suspected of opening bank accounts and giving away their ATM cards and PINs for loan sharks to use in illegal money-lending.
Another operation conducted by CID officers and the Police Intelligence Department on Wednesday resulted in the arrest of 14 men at various locations islandwide.
The police seized various items as case exhibits in this operation, including $24,768 in cash, mobile phones, ATM cards, Internet banking dongles and a laptop.
The men are believed to be members in a loan-sharking syndicate, preliminary investigations show.
Three of the arrested men, aged between 37 and 43, will be charged in court for offences under the Moneylenders Act.
Investigations against the remaining 120 suspects are ongoing.
Under the Act, anyone whose bank account or ATM card is used to facilitate illegal moneylending is presumed to have assisted in the business of unlicensed moneylending.
First-time offenders found guilty of carrying on a business of unlicensed moneylending can be jailed for up to four years, fined between $30,000 and $300,000, and/or receive up to six strokes of the cane.
First-time offenders convicted of assisting in the business of unlicensed moneylending face the same penalties.
First-time offenders found guilty of acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender, harassing or trying to commit any acts of harassment, can be jailed for up to five years, fined between $5,000 and $50,000, and/or receive between three and six strokes of the cane.
The police advised the public to stay away from loan sharks and not to work with or help them in any way.
Those with information on illegal loan shark activities can call the police at 999 or the X-Ah Long hotline at 1800-924-5664.