Unlicensed Moneylending

Community Involvement - What You Can Do To Fight Loansharking Activities

Community involvement

An important part of Police's strategy in the fight against loansharks is the involvement of the community. Police officers cannot be omnipresent; however, residents and those working in the housing estates are constantly present and can effectively help the Police as well as the community.

How you can play a part

Stay vigilant, report loansharking activities

The public can help the Police with their vigilance and immediate reporting of suspicious persons and loanshark harassment activities in their neighbourhoods. Police seek the public's assistance to provide detailed descriptions of such persons and to work with the Police to solve the case. The public should however avoid doing anything which would put them in harm's way.

To provide Police information on loansharking activities, members of the public can call the Police Hotline at 1800-255-0000 or to dial '999' if urgent assistance is required.

Alternatively, persons who may not want to approach the Police directly may call the National Crime Prevention Council's (NCPC) 'X Ah Long' Hotline at 1800-924-5664 (1800-X-AH-LONG) (9am to 5pm from Mondays to Friday) to provide the information which will be channelled to Police to assist us with our investigations. All information will be kept strictly confidential.

Victims of loansharking activities

Victims of loanshark harassment are advised to lodge a Police report at the nearest Neighbourhood Police Centre or to dial '999' if urgent assistance is required. Police will investigate into all reports of loanshark harassment. They can also consider installing CCTVs at their residence to deter harassment and to provide Police with footage capture to assist with our investigations.

Get into the act of keeping your neighbourhood free from loansharking activities

Citizens on Patrol (COP)

COP groups have been established in many communities and neighbourhoods in Singapore, and is one of the initiatives under the Community Safety and Security Programme (CSSP). COP groups are trained by Police on safety, observation skills and crime prevention measures. COP help augment police patrols by being the 'eyes and ears' for the Police during their patrols. COP will alert the Police when they see suspicious activities or persons loitering within their neighbourhood, thus helping to detect and prevent crime and security threats. Volunteers under the COP scheme would be encouraged to pay attention to HDB void decks and other HDB common areas in their routine patrols. During COP patrols, should they notice any crime in progress or any persons behaving suspiciously, the volunteers would call for the Police.

Neighbourhood Watch Groups (NWGs)

Residents have taken the initiative to assist Police in the forming of Neighbourhood Watch Groups (NWGs) at affected locations. Neighbours living beside, below and above affected units are engaged to form NWGs, informing the Police at the onset of any suspicious activity. This is critical in the early detection and intervention before the harassment can cause any injury to persons or damage to property.

How to join

If you are keen to play a part in making your estate a safer place to live in, you can participate in the NWG or the COP initiatives. Please contact your Neighbourhood Police Centre to find out more on these initiatives as well as on how you can join.

Engaging the Community

Educational posters on the consequences of loanshark harassment or borrowing from loansharks have been displayed at locations such as the notice boards of HDB lift lobbies, and advisories against loanshark harassment are also distributed to residents to create awareness amongst the public. Officers from Neighbourhood Police Centres (NPCs) have also gone house-to-house to engage residents and to give them advisories by hand to encourage them to do their part against this scourge. Police have garnered the support from the grassroots and community and embarked on various CSSP Projects to combat the UML situation. The essence of these initiatives involves engaging the community to be the extra eyes and ears of the Police, reporting cases immediately when any suspicious activity is sighted within their neighbourhood. The involvement from the residents and constant vigilance to look out for suspicious persons/activities would ensure that their neighbourhood remains safe and secure. Grassroots organisations, schools, and town councils other agencies are also encouraged to engage the community to educate them on the consequences of borrowing from loansharks as well as in the dissemination of crime prevention materials. If required, the materials can be obtained from the Resources section in this website.

Parents too, have a part to play

A worrying trend observed is the increase in the number of youths (seven to 19 years) caught for their involvement in loansharking and harassment activities. In the first half of 2011, 98 youths, about half of whom were students, were arrested for loansharking activities as compared to the 78 youths arrested in the first half of 2010. Amongst those arrested, investigations revealed that most were recruited by the loansharks to conduct acts of harassment, while others had assisted the loansharking syndicates by providing bank accounts for their illegal operations. Some of them were also involved in the distribution of namecards, pamphlets and flyers advertising 'easy-loans' for illegal moneylenders.

Youths are easy prey for loansharks who dangle easy money as an incentive and provide false assurance that if caught, they would only be punished with probation. This is a myth, as youths may be sentenced to Reformative Training Centre, even for their first offence. Also, Under the Moneylenders Act 2010 (Revised Edition), it is also now an offence for persons who cause or procure persons under 16 to engage in such acts of harassment. This is punishable with imprisoned up to seven years, a maximum fine of $300,000, and a maximum of 12 strokes of the cane.

Police seek the public's continued cooperation in our fight to stamp out the scourge of loansharks from our community. Parents should also be mindful of their children's activities and to educate them so that the youths do not fall prey to these unscrupulous criminals. They can do so by reminding their loved ones about the severity of loansharking-related offences and intervene promptly should they display tell-tale signs of being under the influence of bad company.

Last Updated on 06 June 2016