57 suspected of making ATM transfers for illegal money-lenders among 165 under investigation

The police are investigating 165 people, aged between 17 and 78, for their suspected involvement in unlicensed moneylending activities.

Officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and the seven police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids island-wide during the one-week operation from Feb 20 to 24.

Preliminary investigations revealed that 11 people had allegedly conducted harassment at debtors' residences, with 57 people believed to be runners who had assisted in unlicensed moneylending businesses by carrying out Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transfers. One person had allegedly assisted unlicensed moneylenders by subscribing to mobile lines and one person had allegedly carried on an unlicensed moneylending business.

The remaining 95 people are believed to have opened bank accounts and provided their ATM cards, personal identification numbers and/or Internet banking tokens to unlicensed moneylenders to facilitate their unlicensed moneylending businesses.

Investigations against all the persons are ongoing.

The offence of carrying on or assisting in a business of unlicensed moneylending carries an imprisonment term of up to four years, a fine between $30,000 and $300,000, and caning of up to six strokes.

The offence of acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender, committing or attempting to commit any acts of harassment carries an imprisonment term of up to five years, a fine between $5,000 and $50,000, and caning between three and six strokes.

Unlicensed moneylenders are increasingly using text messaging or online platforms to send unsolicited loan advertisements. You are reminded not to reply or respond to such advertisements and to report these messages as spam.

You are also advised to stay away from unlicensed moneylenders and not to work with or assist them in any way. You 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.