We have all heard of the terror associated with the Ah Long issue here in Singapore. Even after combating them for so many years, loan sharks are still at large locally. Their tactics have become more advanced and menacing, not only targeting willing victims but also unsuspecting victims who never wanted to have anything to do with them in the first place.
Their scams are becoming increasingly widespread, obtaining information of unsuspecting individuals and claiming that they have borrowed from them.
One of the ways to combat these unscrupulous culprits is by knowing their methods and tactics. This is so that we may be more alert should these loan sharks try and mess with us. In this article, we will look at the three most common loan shark scams being used in recent times and how you can spot one.
- The licensed moneylender impersonator
These tech-savvy loan sharks will advertise their “service” through SMS blast, text, Whatsapp, emails and even on social media groups. From a glace, they sound legit and professional, putting up the whole facade with a professional front. Unbeknown to the common folk, these legit licensed moneylenders pretend to be legal parties through the use of legitimate registration numbers given by the Singaporean Monetary Authority (MAS). They “copy and paste” everything from the business name, registration number, and business address.
The victims would then call up or take up the licensed moneylender’s services and provide these legal moneylenders with the victim’s personal details. Once these licensed moneylenders transfer the loan money to the victim’s bank account and demand repayment from them with inflated interest, the victim would then realise that he/she has gotten entangled with an Ah Long, rather than a licensed moneylender.
These licensed moneylenders would also call up their victims, telling them or “reminding” them that they have to pay up, and if they do not, these legal moneylenders will then threaten the victims’ life or family, asking them to watch out in the night. Despite most victims claiming that they are not afraid of these licensed moneylenders, most of them would feel as if staying in their houses at night were like a night spent in jail.
One of the ways to counter this is to double check the license number provided on the complete list of moneylenders published on the Ministry of Law’s website. Also, double check to the point of calling the moneylender’s number or visiting their office for clarification as it is required by law for legal moneylenders to have an office.
- The funds-transfer scam
This scam is one of the most common loan shark tactics in Singapore, and many fall prey to this one.
What happens is that the loan shark will deposit a certain amount of money into the unsuspecting victim’s bank account, and then contact the victim through text or Whatsapp, asking them for repayment, together with the irrational increased interest. Some victims who are terrified of the loan shark will start paying back the amount plus interest, thinking that this will solve the matter. Little do they know that these Ah Longs are only going to harass the victims further, asking for more funds and interest. If the victims refused to pay up, the Ah Longs would threaten to burn the victim’s property, sending victims videos of the act or also harassing their place of residence during the night. Due to fear for their own safety and the safety of their family members, some victims eventually give in to the demands of the Ah Longs.
There are also cases whereby when the victim transfers the loan amount to the Ah Long’s bank account, and the Ah Long then claims that the victim has transferred the loan amount to the wrong bank account, asking them to repay the Ah Longs again. Multiple victims fall prey to this tactic, worried that the Ah Long will do something to them if they don’t comply. However, it is just another scam by the loan sharks to squeeze out as much money from the victims, making it a horrendous cycle for the victim.
- The loan collector scam
The loan collector scam is pretty simple, but many people fall prey to this tactic. The Ah Long obtains the victim’s phone number and starts calling them, claiming that they have borrowed from the loan sharks and ask for repayments. If the victims refused to pay the Ah Longs, then the Ah Longs threaten them with dire consequences such as vandalism or assault. Some victims who have borrowed money in the past would easily fall prey to this tactic and immediately pay the Ah Long.
These Ah Longs are also very smart to the point where they know the victim’s IC number and SingPass number to make everything sound “plausible” or “legit”. The Ah Longs would also make up the bluff saying that the victim has been cheated by third-party and that is why they have to pay up. Though everything sounds very legitimate, these Ah Longs are just out there to get their victims to pay them.
The solution to this is simple, ignore or block the calls, and report to the police.
Signs To Look Out For
Here are a few tell-tale signs to find out whether you are dealing with a loan shark or a real creditor.
- Guarantees of personal loan
Be wary if the lender easily approves a loan without evaluating your credit score, income, or other personal details. Ah Longs easily provide loans to just about anybody, so long that the victim gives them their personal information or the contact of their family members as guarantors. This is also what makes them so lucrative, and many people get involved with Ah Longs due to the simplicity of getting any loan amount without much fuss.
- “Forcing” people to take up a loan using harassment
A big tell-tale sign used by the Ah Longs is the use of psychological fear on their victims. So long as their victims don’t pay up or refuse the loan offered, these Ah Longs will resort to harassment in the form of threatening, damaging of one’s property, assaulting on the lives of the victims and their family members, etc. You can tell that these “threatening” tactics make no sense if one was to borrow money the legal way. The legal way does not use these “threatening” tactics to enforce people to take up a loan and even in the event that the borrowers fail to pay, legal lenders do not resort to violent and fear methods to get the borrowers to repay.
- A lot of unsolicited contacts
The Ah longs would most commonly use frequent calls or text to get in touch with their victims. The harassment can be annoying, but these Ah longs play on the victim’s psychological fear to give in to them. In some cases, the Ah longs never meet the victim face to face even though they threaten to do so. Which is also why authorities have more difficulty in catching the mastermind of the Ah Longs as more often those that are being caught, are the runners who were once victims of the Ah Longs as well.
- Offering to do business without a signed contract
Legal moneylenders by law are required to use contracts for any loan agreement with the borrower. Everything has to be listed black and white, including the loan amount, repayment period and interest charged. The Ah longs would never have a written agreement at hand; everything is exchange verbally which is not binding by law. Ah Longs take advantage of this situation by inflating the interest at will and have victims repay the “loan amount” again and again, with the victims getting caught in a neverending debt cycle.
If you or someone you know is looking for a loan to help boost a business, apply with FS Bolt for a loan quantum of up to SGD 50k! FS Bolt would never resort to dirty harassment or threatening tactics such that is employed by the Ah Longs nor annoy the borrowers with numerous phone calls or texts! FS Bolt is also created by Funding Societies, which is licensed and regulated by the Singaporean Monetary Authority (MAS), aiming to only help SMEs grow and boost their business, by offering a business loan, the legal way.
However, if you are involved with loan sharks, being the victim or the runner, it is best to stop and contact the police to end it once and for all. We do not need to remind you that the consequences for anyone relating to the loan sharks or is involved in a loan shark scheme can be downright devastating with no good outcome at all.
Turn a new leaf now as it is better to be safe than sorry.
Download the FS Bolt app here for a loan quantum injection of up to SGD 50k within 24 hours.
Funding Societies – Capital Markets Services License No: CMS100572-1 issued by Monetary Authority of Singapore (2016)