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A 20-year-old private-hire car driver who became a loan shark runner has escaped jail time due to his 'unusual' modus operandi and displaying empathy towards his victims.
According to Shin Min Daily News, Chen Yuxiang faced five charges for loan shark harassment of four households. The acts were committed from November 9, 2017, to January 9, 2018.
Court documents showed that the young defendant had a gambling addiction and started online betting in 2014. He borrowed from friends after losing money.
In August 2017, Chen saw an advertisement listing on online platform Carousell and began borrowing money from a loan shark known as 'Kelvin'.
As he had no money to repay his debts, he became a loan shark runner.
However, Chen's loan shark harassment methods have been described as 'unusual'.
He would first use a bicycle chain to lock the metal gate of his victim's home, leave a debtor's note and then film a video to send it to the loan shark.
Afterwards, he would remove the chain and note, cleaning up the crime scene before leaving.
The loan shark would then send the video to his debtors.
On January 9 this year, a victim along Woodlands Street 43 informed the police after Chen committed his acts.
Through CCTV cameras, police discovered the private-hire car that Chen was driving, established his identity and arrested him.
During Chen's sentencing, the judge pointed out that loan shark runners are typically sentenced to at least one year in jail.
But even though Chen's behaviour constituted harassment, he did not leave behind his tools at the scene. He also saved his victims from humiliation and from being embarrassed should their neighbours find out.
This showed that Chen possessed empathy and would reform himself. Also taking his young age into consideration, Chen was sentenced to 24 months of probation instead.
Under the Moneylenders Act, first time-offenders found guilty of loan shark harassment are liable to a fine between $5,000 and $50,000, with mandatory imprisonment of up to five years, and mandatory caning of up to six strokes.