129 people arrested over loan-shark activities in islandwide raids
The police have arrested 129 suspects for their involvement in loan-shark activities, in an operation from July 8 to 10.
Officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and seven police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids at multiple locations islandwide.
In a press release yesterday, the police said 94 men and 35 women aged between 17 and 82 were arrested.
Preliminary investigations revealed 28 of them are believed to be runners who had carried out automated teller machine (ATM) transfers on behalf of loan sharks.
Four allegedly splashed paint and scrawled loan shark-related graffiti on walls. Two suspects allegedly carried on a business of unlicensed moneylending.
One suspect allegedly provided false contact information to get loans.
The remaining suspects are believed to have opened bank accounts and given away their ATM cards and personal identification numbers to loan sharks to facilitate their unlicensed moneylending businesses.
Investigations are ongoing.
The police said opening a bank account, distributing pamphlets, acting as a lookout, being a runner or acting as a harasser for loan sharks can lead to fines, jail terms and caning.
Under the Moneylenders' Act, when a bank account or an ATM card is used to facilitate unlicensed moneylending, that person is presumed to have assisted in unlicensed moneylending.
First-time offenders convicted of carrying on or assisting in a business of unlicensed moneylending can be fined between $30,000 and $300,000, jailed for up to four years and get up to six strokes of the cane.
The police advise the public not to reply to loan advertisements via text messages or online platforms as they are likely to be from loan sharks.
The public can report the number as spam and call the police on 999 or the X-Ah Long hotline on 1800-924-5664 if they suspect or know of anyone involved in loan-shark activities.