The Police have arrested 74 men and 37 women, aged between 16 and 73, for their suspected involvement in loansharking activities in a three-day operation conducted from 25 to 27 February 2019.
Officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and the seven police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids at multiple locations islandwide, resulting in the arrests. Preliminary investigations revealed that 14 suspects are believed to have carried out Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transfers on behalf of loansharks. Three other suspects are believed to have carried out acts of loanshark harassment by splashing paint and scrawling loanshark-related graffiti on walls. Another two suspects are believed to have provided false contact information for the purpose of obtaining loans.
The remaining 92 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.
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. The Police 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 moneylending by an unlicensed moneylender, 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 may be fined 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 imprisonment for a term of up to five years, a fine of between $5,000 and $50,000, and shall also be liable to be punished with caning between three and six strokes.
Any person who is guilty of providing false contact information to obtain loans from loansharks shall be liable upon conviction to imprisonment for a term of up to 12 months. Under the National Registration Act, any person who is guilty of an offence of failing to report a change of address shall be liable on conviction to a fine of up to $5,000, or to imprisonment for a term of up to five years, or to both.
Loansharks are increasingly sending unsolicited loan advertisements via text messages or online platforms. Members of the public are reminded not to reply or respond to such advertisements, and report the number as spam. The public can 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.
Source: Singapore Police Force