Men make us scapegoats for loan sharks

Men make us scapegoats for loan sharks
Photo illustration on a female loanshark runner.

SINGAPORE - At first glance, she'd look like any working professional on Shenton Way - neatly dressed in office attire with perfectly manicured nails and a pair of boots.

But open her designer sling bag, and instead of make-up, you would find markers, a packet of wet tissues, four mobile phones, a tablet, bicycle chains and padlocks.

And sometimes, a wig or two.

"Tools of the trade," says the former loan shark runner who agreed to this interview on condition that we do not use her real name.

She took us through what she once used to get the job done: The boots make for easy walking and the wigs help throw people off her track.

Jane, who is in her 20s, adds in fluent English: "For that matter, the whole appearance is a perfect disguise for the job - harassing debtors so they would pay up their loans."

She says that when she was "previously active", she often came across other women runners who did not look like the usual suspects.

Like in the case of Liu Yimin Lynnette, 28, who was charged in court on Jan 10.

When police first released her photo in an appeal looking for the woman in a case of loan shark harassment, it created a stir on social media.

Her mother reportedly turned the young woman in after she read the news.

Liu faces seven charges of splashing red paint on doors and pasting envelopes with "O$P$", the unit numbers of the borrowers and a mobile number on the walls beside the units.

She was allegedly involved in cases of loan shark harassment between

last November and January in areas such as Jurong East, Bukit Batok, Pasir Ris and Sembawang.

NOT FIRST, NOT LAST

Jane knows she is "not the first and definitely not the last" woman runner involved in loan shark activities.

Three in 10 people arrested for unlicensed moneylending activities between September and December last year were women.

The figure does not include those who were arrested this month.

Jane says: "Who says that runners must be men?

"Some of us (women) are forced to become runners because of our father, husband or boyfriend.

"They borrow money, they don't pay and we end up being the scapegoats."

Jane, who served time and was released in 2012, was arrested when one of the loan sharks she worked for was busted.

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