168 people under police investigation for suspected involvement in unlicensed moneylending

Police said they conducted a two-week blitz between Sept 20 and Oct 1. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The police are investigating 168 people, aged between 14 and 72, for suspected involvement in unlicensed moneylending.

The police said on Sunday (Oct 3) that they conducted a two-week blitz between Sept 20 and Oct 1.

Officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and the seven police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids islandwide.

The police said 14 suspects are believed to have conducted harassment activities at debtors' residences.

Another 34 are said to be runners who assisted in unlicensed moneylending by carrying out ATM transfers.

One is suspected to have provided false contact information to an unlicensed moneylender, leading to harassment being carried out against an innocent victim's residence.

The remaining 119 are believed to have opened bank accounts and provided their ATM cards, personal identification numbers and Internet banking tokens to unlicensed moneylenders to facilitate their businesses.

Under the Moneylenders Act (Revised Edition 2010), 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 assisted in carrying on such a business.

First-time offenders found guilty of carrying on or assisting in a business of unlicensed moneylending can be jailed up to four years, fined between $30,000 and $300,000, and receive up to six strokes of the cane.

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

Any person found guilty of providing false contact information to obtain loans from unlicensed moneylenders may be jailed up to 12 months.

The police also said unlicensed moneylenders are increasingly using text messaging or online platforms to send unsolicited loan advertisements. The public are reminded not to respond.

They 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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