Singapore—A massive anti-loan shark operation by the police resulted in the arrest of 316 people, the youngest of whom is 13 years old.
The oldest suspect picked up is 71 years old.
In their media release on Tuesday (Feb 9), the police said that the operation, which spanned all of Singapore, lasted three weeks beginning from Jan 18 and ending on Sunday (Feb 7), with simultaneous raids.
Members of the Criminal Investigation Department and seven police land divisions participated in the operations.
Thirty-three people picked up during the bust were reported to have conducted harassment in debtors’ places of residence.
Another 68 people are alleged runners who helped loan sharks carry out their business by doing transfers on automated teller machines (ATM).
The rest of the 215 suspects were said to have opened bank accounts for loan sharks. This means they also gave over their ATM cards, PIN numbers or tokens from Internet banking to the loan sharks so they could perform their illegal moneylending operations.
The police have been able to seize a total of S$52,000 in cash, as well as various other items, including paid SIM cards.
They are now conducting investigations on all the suspects.
According to the Monylenders Act, people are presumed to have aided in illegal moneylending if their bank account, internet tokens and ATM cards are used in the operations of a moneylender with no licence.
Those convicted of unlicensed moneylending face six strokes of the cane, up to four years in jail or a fine between S$30,000 and S$300,000.
Those found guilty of acting on their behalf, or who have committed or attempted to commit any acts of harassment, face up to five years in jail, three to six strokes of the cane, or a fine between S$5,000 and S$500,000.
According to the police, more and more loan sharks are sending online, or through text messages, unsolicited loan advertisements.
The police are committed to taking firm action against those who facilitate such activities.
“This would include taking action against those who open or give away their bank accounts to aid unlicensed moneylenders,” said the police.
The police have told the public not to respond to these advertisements and to report illegal activities of this type to the X-Ah Long hotline on 1800-924-5664.
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