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12-year-old among 189 people investigated over suspected unlicensed moneylending activities

12-year-old among 189 people investigated over suspected unlicensed moneylending activities

Close-up of a person using an automated teller machine. (Photo: iStock/PKpix)

SINGAPORE: A total of 189 people aged between 12 and 78 are being investigated for their suspected involvement in unlicensed moneylending activities, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said on Tuesday (Dec 7).

This came after SPF conducted a two-week operation against unlicensed moneylending between Nov 22 and Dec 3.

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 16 suspects had allegedly conducted harassment at debtors’ residences,” SPF said in a news release.

“Another 37 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 conducted at a victim’s residence.”

The other 135 suspects allegedly opened bank accounts and then gave their ATM cards, personal identification numbers and Internet banking tokens to unlicensed moneylenders to facilitate their activities.

Police investigations are ongoing.

When a person’s bank account, ATM card or Internet banking token is used to facilitate moneylending by an unlicensed moneylender, that person is presumed to have assisted in carrying on the business of unlicensed moneylending, 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 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,” SPF said.

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

SPF added that unlicensed moneylenders have been increasingly using text messaging and online platforms to send unsolicited loan advertisements. Members of the public are advised not to respond to these advertisements and to report them as spam.

Source: CNA/kg(gr)

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