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The New Paper
Jan 10, 2024
A mother of two young boys was terrified when she received threats from loan sharks demanding repayment for her maid's loans.
Madam Ika Lestari Sabtu, a 40-year-old teacher, told TNP: "I was worried about my children, so of course I wanted to sort this out as quickly as possible."
She and her husband on Jan 4 paid almost $4,000 to three loan sharks their maid had borrowed from.
Ms Maemanah, 32, had been working with Madam Ika's family since January 2023. And she was last paid her monthly salary on Dec 26.
That was why Madam Ika sensed that something was amiss when Ms Maemanah asked for a salary advancement on Jan 4.
When pressed, Ms Maemanah admitted to borrowing money from three loan sharks in December. She showed Madam Ika her phone conversations with the illegal moneylenders and pleaded for help as she was being harassed.
"She used screenshots of my phone number and display photo on WhatsApp and a conversation with me as proofs that I was her employer," said Madam Ika, who thought it was all over after the repayments.
However, at about 1pm the following day, Madam Ika received more messages demanding more money. The messages claimed Ms Maemanah had other outstanding loans.
Madam Ika found it hard to believe as she herself had seen the loan amounts in Ms Maemanah's conversations with the loan sharks.
A friend working at a licensed moneylending company advised Madam Ika to ignore the messages and he said it was a scare tactic loan sharks use to try to get more money from their victims.
She tried to reach Ms Maemanah but her calls went unanswered. Her son also told her that the maid was not at home.
Madam Ika filed a police report for a missing person and the harassment by loan sharks. The police advised her to keep her door closed and not make any more payments.
Ms Maemanah was caught on the closed-circuit television footage to be leaving the flat with two tote bags. She had earlier prised open Madam Ika's locked drawer to retrieve her passport.
Madam Ika posted on Facebook an appeal for information on her missing maid.
A netizen told Madam Ika she spotted Ms Maemanah and a man boarding bus service 43 at Punggol Bus Interchange. She was dressed as in the same clothes and carrying the same bag as in the CCTV footage.
"I wish I had been more vigilant in checking her phone, maybe I could have intercepted all these," said Madam Ika, adding that the maid agency has helped to expedite the process to get her a replacement maid.