Police islandwide operation nets 127 suspects for loansharking activities

SINGAPORE - An islandwide dragnet between Tuesday and Friday saw police arrest 127 suspects for alleged involvement in loansharking activities.

The latest blitz was conducted by officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and all six police land divisions who launched simultaneous raids at multiple locations, netting 89 men and 38 women aged between 18 and 74. Police said 11 of the suspects were believed to have been harassers or runners who facilitated the loansharks' businesses by verifying debtors' particulars, procuring Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards and carrying out ATM transfers.

Three other suspects were believed to have provided false contact information when obtaining loans from loansharks, which resulted in innocent home-owners being harassed. The trio are being investigated under the National Registration Act for failing to report their change of address.

The remaining 113 suspects were believed to have opened bank accounts and given away their ATM cards and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) to loansharks to assist their unlicensed moneylending operations.

Police said investigations against all the suspects are ongoing.

Under the Moneylenders' Act, when a bank account or ATM card of any person is used to facilitate moneylending by an unlicensed moneylender, that person is presumed to have assisted in carrying on the business of unlicensed moneylending.

First-time offenders found guilty of assisting in loansharking may be fined between $30,000 and $300,000, be jailed up to four years and be caned up to six strokes.

If convicted of acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender or harassment, first-time offenders face jail time of up to five years, a fine of between $5,000 and $50,000, and caning of between three and six strokes.

Any person found guilty of providing false contact information to obtain loans from loansharks can be jailed for up to 12 months. A person found to have failed to report a change of address can be fined up to $5,000, jailed up to five years, or both.

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