SINGAPORE - Police operations targeting loan sharking have led to the arrest of 316 people and the seizure of $52,000.
Those arrested are aged between 13 and 71.
Officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and the seven police land divisions conducted raids islandwide between Jan 18 and Feb 7.
Preliminary investigations found that 33 of the suspects allegedly harassed debtors at their homes while 68 suspects are believed to be runners who helped loan sharks by carrying out ATM transfers, the police said on Tuesday (Feb 9).
The remaining 215 suspects purportedly opened bank accounts and provided their ATM cards, personal identification numbers or Internet banking tokens to loan sharks to help their unlicensed moneylending businesses.
Mobile phones, prepaid SIM cards and other items were also seized during the operations.
Investigations are ongoing.
Police reminded the public not to reply or respond to unsolicited loan advertisements over text messages or online platforms and to report the Whatsapp messages as spam. The public can call the police or the X-Ah Long hotline on 1800-924-5664 if they suspect or know of anyone involved in illegal loan-sharking activity.
First-time offenders convicted of carrying on or assisting in a business of unlicensed moneylending can be fined between $30,000 and $300,000, jailed for up to four years and caned up to six strokes.
Those guilty of acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender, committing or attempting to commit acts of harassment can be fined between $5,000 and $50,000, jailed for up to five years and caned between three and six strokes.