14-year-old among 181 investigated over suspected unlicensed moneylending activities

SINGAPORE: A total of 181 people aged between 14 and 77 are being investigated for their suspected involvement in unlicensed moneylending activities, the police said on Saturday (Jan 22).

The suspects were identified following a two-week operation against unlicensed moneylending between Jan 10 and Jan 21.

The operation saw officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and the seven police land divisions carry out simultaneous raids across the island.

“Preliminary investigations revealed that 15 suspects had allegedly conducted harassment at debtors’ residences,” the police said in a news release.

Another 28 suspects are believed to be runners who had assisted in unlicensed moneylending businesses by carrying out automated teller machine (ATM) transfers.

“One suspect is also believed to have provided false contact information to an unlicensed moneylender, leading to harassment caused at an innocent victim’s residence,” the police added.

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The remaining 137 suspects are believed to have opened bank accounts and provided their ATM cards, personal identification numbers (PINs) or Internet banking tokens to unlicensed moneylenders to facilitate their businesses.

Investigations against all the suspects are ongoing, said the police.

A person whose bank account, ATM card or Internet banking token is used to facilitate moneylending by an unlicensed moneylender is presumed to have assisted in carrying on the unlicensed activities, SPF said.

First-time offenders face up to four years in prison, a fine of between S$30,000 and S$300,000, and up to six strokes of the cane.

First-time offenders convicted of committing or attempting to commit acts of harassment on behalf of unlicensed moneylenders face up to five years in prison, a fine of between S$5,000 and S$50,000, and between three and six strokes of the cane.

Those found guilty of providing false contact information to obtain loans from unlicensed moneylenders can be jailed for up to 12 months.

The police said they will continue to take tough enforcement action against those involved in the unlicensed moneylending businesses, regardless of their roles, and ensure that they face "the full brunt of the law".

This includes taking action against those who open or give away their bank accounts to aid unlicensed moneylenders.

“Unlicensed moneylenders are increasingly using text messaging or online platforms to send unsolicited loan advertisements. Members of the public are reminded not to reply or respond to such advertisements and to report these messages as spam,” the police said.

Artmotion Asia

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