181 under probe over unlicensed moneylending following raids by police, CID

The police conducted simultaneous raids islandwide between Jan 10 and Jan 21. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the seven police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids islandwide between Jan 10 and Jan 21, and 181 people, aged between 14 and 77, are under investigation for suspected involvement in unlicensed moneylending activities.

In a release on Saturday (Jan 22), the police said: "Preliminary investigations revealed that 15 suspects had allegedly conducted harassment at debtors' residences.

"Another 28 suspects are believed to be runners who had assisted in unlicensed moneylending businesses by carrying out automated teller machine (ATM) transfers."

The police added that one suspect is believed to have provided false contact information to an unlicensed moneylender, causing harassment at an innocent victim's residence.

The remaining 137 suspects are believed to have opened bank accounts and provided their ATM cards, personal identification numbers or Internet banking tokens to unlicensed moneylenders.

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

Those convicted of committing or attempting any acts of harassment on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender for the first time can be jailed for up to five years, fined between $5,000 and $50,000, and caned between three and six strokes.

Meanwhile, anyone found guilty of providing false contact information to obtain loans from unlicensed moneylenders can be jailed for 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 is reminded not to reply or respond to such advertisements and to report these messages as spam.

They are also advised to stay away from unlicensed moneylenders and not to work with or assist them in any way.

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 is involved in unlicensed moneylending activities.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.