118 arrested in islandwide anti-loanshark blitz

118 arrested in islandwide anti-loanshark blitz
PHOTO: ST

The police have arrested 118 suspects, aged between 18 and 68, in an islandwide anti-loansharking operation that took place from July 21 to 24.

In a statement released on Saturday, the police said that these 83 men and 35 women are suspected to be involved in loansharking activities.

During the operation, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and six Police Land Divisions conducted simultaneous raids at multiple locations in Singapore.

Preliminary investigations revealed that eight suspects are believed to be runners who had assisted loanshark businesses by carrying out Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transfers or procuring ATM cards for the syndicates' usage.

Meanwhile, another three suspects are believed to be loanshark harassers who splashed paint and defaced walls with loanshark-related graffiti.

One other suspect was also arrested for providing false contact information when getting loans from loansharks.

The remaining 106 suspects are believed to have opened bank accounts and given away their ATM cards and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) to loansharks to facilitate their unlicensed moneylending businesses.

Investigations against all suspects are ongoing.

First-time offenders found guilty of assisting unlicensed moneylending businesses will face a fine between $30,000 and $300,000, a jail term of up to four years and shall also be liable to a maximum of six strokes of caning.

First-time offenders found guilty of acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender, committing or attempting to commit any acts of harassment will face a jail term of up to five years, a fine between $5,000 and $50,000, and shall also be liable to caning of between three and six strokes.

Any person who is convicted of providing false contact information to obtain loans from loansharks will face a jail 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 will face a fine of up to $5,000, or a jail term of up to five years, or both.

Members of public are advised to stay away from loansharks and not to assist the loansharks in any way.

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.

minlee@sph.com.sg

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