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Singapore

14-year-old among dozens investigated for unlicensed moneylending activities

14-year-old among dozens investigated for unlicensed moneylending activities

A police officer arresting a suspect in Singapore. (Photo: Hanidah Amin)

SINGAPORE: Nearly 170 people, aged between 14 and 72, are being investigated for their suspected involvement in unlicensed moneylending activities, said the police on Sunday (Oct 3).

The 168 suspects were nabbed during an islandwide raid against unlicensed moneylending operations from Sep 20 to Oct 1, the Singapore Police Force said in a news release.

Initial investigations show that 14 suspects are believed to have conducted harassment activities at debtors’ residences, while 34 other suspects are believed to be runners for unlicensed moneylending businesses by carrying out ATM transfers, police said.

One suspect is thought to have provided false contact information to an unlicensed moneylender, which resulted in harassment being carried out against an innocent victim’s residence.

The remaining 119 suspects are believed to have opened bank accounts and provided their ATM cards, PINs and/or Internet banking tokens to unlicensed moneylenders to facilitate their businesses.

Investigations are ongoing.

A person is presumed to have assisted in the business of unlicensed moneylending if their bank account, ATM card or Internet banking token is used to facilitate moneylending by an unlicensed moneylender.

First-time offenders found guilty of assisting in unlicensed moneylending face a jail term of up to four years, a fine of between S$30,000 and S$300,000 and caning of up to six strokes.

Those guilty of committing or attempting to commit harassment on behalf of unlicensed moneylenders may face up to five years’ jail, a fine of between S$5,000 and S$50,000 and a caning between three and six strokes.

Any person guilty of providing false contact information to obtain loans from unlicensed moneylenders will be jailed for up to 12 months.

“The Police 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,” said the police.

“This will include taking action against those who open or give away their bank accounts to aid unlicensed moneylenders.”

The police warned that unlicensed moneylenders are increasingly using text messaging or online platforms to send unsolicited loan advertisements.

Members of the public are advised not to respond to those advertisements and to report those messages as spam, as well as to not work with moneylenders 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 unlicensed moneylending activities.

Source: CNA/ec(ac)

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