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Illegal money lending syndicates in Singapore are hiring more foreign thugs, most of them from Taiwan and Vietnam, to harass delinquent borrowers into paying up, police said Wednesday.
These loansharks have resorted to recruiting foreign “runners” in the hope that they can avoid detection and arrest by the authorities because they enter on short-term social visit passes and have no fixed addresses.
In 2010, 50 foreigners mostly from Taiwan and Vietnam working for illegal money lenders were arrested, more than double the 22 people nabbed the year before, police said.
“These foreign loanshark runners are often recruited overseas, are usually in Singapore for a short period of time and may not have a fixed place to abode,” police said at their annual briefing on the local crime situation.
Loanshark runners usually harass delinquent borrowers by splashing paint on their homes and publicly shaming them by writing their name, home address and telephone number on the walls of highrise housing blocs.
In extreme cases they throw human or animal faeces, urine or kerosene on a defaulting borrower’s doorstep or letterbox. They may also physically threaten the borrower.
Assistant police commissioner Hoong Wee Teck, director of the Criminal Investigation Department, said loanshark syndicates “are mistaken if they think they can circumvent the law by bringing in foreign nationals to commit crime on their behalf.”
Unlicensed money lending and harassment are criminal offences in Singapore.