13-year-old among 107 suspects under probe for unlicensed moneylending links

SINGAPORE - A total of 107 people, between 13 and 74 years old, are being investigated for their suspected involvement in unlicensed moneylending activities.

The police conducted raids islandwide during a five-day anti-unlicensed moneylending operation between July 25 and July 29.

In a statement on Tuesday (Aug 2), the police said preliminary investigations revealed that three of the suspects had allegedly harassed victims at their residences, while 23 are believed to be runners who helped unlicensed moneylending businesses carry out automated teller machine (ATM) transfers or take photos of debtors' residences.

One suspect allegedly assisted unlicensed moneylenders by subscribing to mobile lines. Another is believed to have provided false contact information to an unlicensed moneylender, leading to harassment of an innocent victim.

The other 79 suspects are believed to have opened bank accounts and given unlicensed moneylenders their ATM cards, personal identification numbers and Internet banking tokens.

Under the Moneylenders Act, when a bank account, ATM card or Internet banking token of any person is used to facilitate unlicensed moneylending, that person is presumed to have helped the process.

Investigations against all the suspects are ongoing.

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

Those found guilty of committing or attempting to commit any acts of harassment on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender can be fined between $5,000 and $50,000, jailed for up to five years, and given between three and six strokes of the cane.

Anyone found guilty of providing false contact information to obtain loans from unlicensed moneylenders can be jailed for up to 12 months.

The police said: "Unlicensed moneylenders are increasingly using text messaging or online platforms to send unsolicited loan advertisements. Members of the public are reminded not to reply or respond to such advertisements and to report these messages as spam."

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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