Loan sharks' victim becomes runner
Man works off $10,000 debt to loan sharks as their runner, gets 5 years' corrective training, caning
His cleaning business was in financial trouble so he borrowed $10,000 from two loan sharks.
When he could not pay them back, they suggested that he work off his loans - by harassing other debtors by writing graffiti, splashing paint and setting fire to their properties.
So Mohamed Ashyik Mohamed Shawal became a loan shark runner and harassed 22 households over Singapore within a week in June 2015. This included setting fire to the main gate, door or corridor of four units.
Yesterday, Ashyik, 31, was sentenced to five years' corrective training and 12 strokes of the cane after pleading guilty last month to 10 charges.
Corrective training is a prison regime for repeat offenders that can last between five and 14 years and does not offer the usual one-third remission for good behaviour.
Ashyik fit the bill as he has a history of theft, vandalism, robbery and drug convictions that go all the way back to when he was 13.
Court papers said Ashyik worked as a car polisher at Trade Hub 21 and earned about $2,000 a month.
He also had a sideline cleaning business with three workers, whom he paid $240 a month each.
In May this year, he was unable to pay them as he was facing financial trouble. He initially borrowed $1,000 with 20 per cent interest from a loan shark known as Marco.
He later borrowed $4,000 more from Marco and another $5,000 from another loan shark known as Denzel.
When Ashyik was unable to pay them a month later, they suggested he work for them to clear his debts.
Marco promised him $80 for splashing paint and writing graffiti on each debtor's home, while Denzel offered $1,000 for setting fire to and writing graffiti on each unit.
Ashyik was tempted by the offer and accepted.
In a week in June this year, he harassed 22 households in Ang Mo Kio, Woodlands, Tampines, Bukit Batok and Serangoon, among other places.
Three times, he doused the main doors with a flammable liquid before setting them alight.
He also set fire to the corridor outside a debtor's HDB flat in Woodlands and burned paper outside another unit in Boon Lay Drive.
He also defaced the walls of staircase landings using markers by writing "O$P$" (short for Owe Money, Pay Money), lock debtors' main gates using bicycle locks, splashed paint on people's main doors and left threatening notes outside their neighbours' flats.
Ashyik also handed over his automated teller machine (ATM) cards to Marco to help facilitate the loan-sharking business.
He was arrested by officers from the Criminal Investigation Department on June 15 at the void deck of his Toa Payoh home, after he was tracked by police cameras.
He pleaded guilty last month to eight counts of harassing borrowers on the orders of loan sharks, one count of assisting an unlicensed moneylender by handing over his ATM card and one drug consumption charge.
Eighteen other charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.
He was promised payments of...
for splashing paint and writing graffiti at each unit on behalf of a loan shark known as Marco
for setting fire to and writing graffiti at each unit on behalf of a loan shark known as Denzel
By the numbers
Number of unlicensed moneylending and harassment cases in the first half of this year, down from 3,359 in the same period last year.
Number of unlicensed moneylending and harassment cases over the past three years
If you suspect anyone of being involved in illegal loan-sharking activities, call the police at '999' or the X Ah Long hotline at 1800-924-5664 (1800-X-AH-LONG).