SINGAPORE: A total of 94 men and 35 women, aged 17 to 82, were arrested for their suspected involvement in loan-sharking activities last week, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said in a news release on Monday (Jul 15).
During a three-day islandwide operation conducted between Jul 8 and Jul 10, simultaneous raids were conducted at multiple locations by the Criminal Investigation Department and seven Police Land Divisions, resulting in the arrests.
The suspects were arrested for various loan-sharking activities.
“Four suspects are believed to have carried out acts of loan shark harassment by splashing paint and scrawling loan shark-related graffiti on walls,” said SPF.
“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.”
A bulk of the suspects – 94 of them – are believed to have opened bank accounts and given away their ATM cards and personal identification numbers to loan sharks, to facilitate their unlicensed moneylending businesses.
Another 28 suspects are believed to be runners who had carried out Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transfers on behalf of loan sharks.
The police said: “Opening a bank account, distributing pamphlets, acting as a look-out, being a runner or acting as a harasser for loan sharks are criminal activities that have serious consequences, such as a hefty fine, jail term and even caning.”
SPF added that “regardless of their roles”, those involved in the loan sharking business “will face the full brunt of the law”.
Investigations against all the suspects are ongoing.
If found guilty of carrying on or assisting in a business of unlicensed moneylending, first-time offenders may be fined between S$30,000 and S$300,000, jailed for up to four years and caned.
For acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender, committing or attempting to commit any acts of harassment, first-time offenders may be fined between S$5,000 and S$50,000, jailed up to five years and caned.
The public are advised against responding to loan advertisements online or via text messages.
The police said they are likely to be from loan sharks, as licensed moneylenders are not permitted to advertise their services.