Loan sharks on the ball

Loan sharks on the ball
Wednesday March 29, 2006

PENANG: The World Cup 2006 only starts in June but local loan sharks have started offering on-the-spot loans to clients who are interested in placing bets for matches in the tournament.

Calling cards have been placed in the letterboxes of households advertising the types of loans that are offered.

Clients could opt for a 15-day loan with a flat 3% interest rate; but there are many hidden charges, such as stamping and processing fees.

The client is also charged for the loan contract.

A client could only get RM800 out of a RM1,000 loan once these charges are deducted.

These extra charges are the loan sharks methods of milking their clients.

Apart from calling cards, some of these enterprising loan sharks even distributed match fixtures for their clients to keep track of their betting activities.

State deputy CID chief Supt Razali Basri said the police are aware that these illegal moneylenders are coming out in full force for the month-long World Cup to be held in Germany starting on June 9.

The anti-vice branch has been instructed to monitor the loan sharks activities. Some of them have also been found to double up as bookies.

The public should not get involved in the illegal activities. Take the family out for a nice dinner instead of betting on the matches as the odds are always against the punters.

Supt Razali said borrowers in some cases had been beaten up for failing to settle their loans.

Anyone with information on loan sharks can call our hotline (04-269 1999), SMS/MMS hotline (012-490 0999) or SMS POLICEPG at 32728, as we want to solve this problem once and for all.

State Commercial Crime chief Asst Comm Tajuddin Md Isa said police are working to identify the loan sharks.

Anyone who conducts a money-lending business without the proper licence is liable to be charged under Section 5 (2) of the Moneylenders Act, he said.

If convicted, the perpetrator is liable to a maximum RM100,000 fine and can be jailed up to five years, he added.