Published: 06 October 2020
Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) whether there has been an increase in illegal moneylending activities in the period of April to September 2020 compared to the same six-month period in 2019; (b) whether there is an increasing trend of young adults, aged between 16 and 21 getting involved in illegal loansharking and harassment activities; and (c) whether the Ministry has any plans to increase anti-unlicensed money lending education and enforcement efforts given the current economic downturn.
1. Between April and August 2020, 1,587 cases of Unlicensed Moneylending (UML) and UML-related harassment were reported. This was a 40% decrease from 2,642 cases reported during the same period in 2019. Data for September 2020 is not available yet.
2. Over the past five years, between 100 and 160 youths aged between 16 and 21 years old were arrested for UML offences every year. There was no clear trend of increase. More recently, between January and August 2020, 89 youths in this age range were arrested for UML offences, which was a 19% decrease from 110 in the same period in 2019.
3. The Police are stepping up efforts to counter these crimes, as the economic downturn may lead to more people seeking illegal loans. Between January and September 2020, Police conducted four major enforcement operations and arrested a total of 838 subjects who were believed to be involved in loan-sharking activities. The Police are also actively working and sharing information with various stakeholders, including foreign law enforcement agencies, to dismantle loan-shark syndicates that are operating outside Singapore.
4. On the public education front, Police launched the 4th Anti-UML campaign in January 2020, with the aim of increasing public awareness (i) not to borrow from unlicensed moneylenders or work for them; (ii) that there are social assistance and credit counselling agencies which provide help for UML cases; and (iii) that legal moneylenders are not allowed to advertise via SMS/WhatsApp, and hence the public should ignore, block and report UML advertisements received via SMS/WhatsApp.