94 men and 35 women, aged between 17 and 82, were arrested for their suspected involvement in loansharking activities in an operation that was conducted from 8 to 10 July 2019.
Officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and seven Police Land Divisions conducted simultaneous raids at multiple locations island-wide during the three-day operation, resulting in the arrests.
Singapore Police Force (SPF) stated that preliminary investigations revealed that 28 suspects are believed to be runners who had carried out Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transfers on behalf of loansharks.
Four suspects are believed to have carried out acts of loanshark harassment by splashing paint and scrawling loanshark-related graffiti on walls.
While another two suspects are believed to have carried on a business of unlicensed moneylending and a suspect is believed to have provided false contact information for the purpose of obtaining loans.
The remaining 94 suspects are believed to have opened bank accounts and given away their ATM cards and Personal Identification Numbers to loansharks to facilitate their unlicensed moneylending businesses.
Investigations against all the suspects are ongoing, the police noted.
The police stressed that opening a bank account, distributing pamphlets, acting as a look-out, being a runner or acting as a harasser for loansharks are criminal activities that have serious consequences, such as a hefty fine, jail term and even caning and that it will take tough enforcement action against those involved in the loansharking business, regardless of their roles, and they will face the full brunt of the law.
Under the Moneylenders’ Act (Revised Edition 2010), when a bank account or ATM card of any person is used to facilitate unlicensed moneylending, that person is presumed to have assisted in the carrying on the business of unlicensed moneylending.
- First-time offenders found guilty of carrying on or assisting in a business of unlicensed moneylending shall be punished with a fine between $30,000 and $300,000, be imprisoned for a term of up to four years and shall also be liable to be punished with caning of up to six strokes.
- First-time offenders found guilty of acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender, committing or attempting to commit any acts of harassment shall be punished with a fine of between $5,000 and $50,000, be imprisoned for a term of up to five years, and shall also be liable to be punished with caning between three and six strokes.
The police said that all loan advertisements via text messages or online platforms are likely to be from loan sharks as licensed moneylenders are not permitted to advertise their services.
It also reminds members of the public not to reply or respond to such advertisements as they will be likely to be harassed by the loansharks thereafter. The public can report the number as spam and call the Police at ‘999’ or the X-Ah Long hotline at 1800-924-5664 if they suspect or know of anyone who could be involved in illegal loansharking activities.