Loan sharks will hound you until they destroy not only your life, but also those of your loved ones.
- Ah Long menace getting out of hand
- Loan sharks getting more and more unreasonable
- Allegedly, those backing Ah Long could be people with titles
- Tempting packages to lure borrowers
- Charged by the hour, interest for RM5k loan shot up to RM1mil
An insurance agent borrowed money from an Ah Long and paid it back, but he was 90 minutes’ late.
Now, the Ah Long is threatening him and his family if he does not pay RM500 for every 30 minutes he was late.
Speaking at a press conference held by MCA Public Service and Complaints Department chairman Datuk Seri Michael Chong at Wisma MCA in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, the victim, who wished to be known only as Chan, 25, fears for his family’s safety
“I borrowed RM3,000 from the loan shark called JJ on Dec 31 and paid the full amount.
“Now he is demanding an extra RM1,500 as penalty for paying late and is threatening to chop my hands off and hurt my family,” he said.
Chan has since lodged a police report.
Chong said that the Ah Long menace is getting out of hand.
“They are getting more and more unreasonable. This year alone, in the first 19 days, I have 16 cases of people owing Ah Longs over RM2.11mil,” he said.
Chong even called JJ on the phone at the press conference and put it on speaker for reporters to hear.
He tried reasoning with the moneylender to leave Chan’s family alone but the Ah Long refused.
“I don’t have to listen to you. I will do what must be done to get him to pay,” said the loan shark.
Chong said loan sharks were becoming more brazen as they believed that the authorities could not track them down.
“None of their phone numbers, for example, are registered under their own identities. They will usually register it under the names of foreigners.
“When I call to confront them about some of my cases, they dare to challenge me and even tell me to get the authorities to act against them.
“There is no paper trail and you never meet them face to face. Even the bank account they give you is not under their name so it is very difficult for the police to track them,” he said.
According to Chong, since the loan sharks use mule accounts for the transfer of funds, those arrested so far are the mules.
“The real culprits remain unknown,” he said, adding that those backing the Ah Long could be people with titles such as ‘Datuk’.
Chong urged people to stay away from unlicensed moneylenders and be cautious about who they borrow money from.
“These conmen, once they trap you, will make you pay forever until they destroy not only your life, but the lives of your loved ones too,” he said.
Getting more aggressive, loan sharks are offering tempting packages tailored for major events such as Chinese New Year and the FIFA World Cup, which is five months’ away.
Some offer discounts for early payback or easy repayment schemes, such as offering a loan of RM1,000 with 10% interest to be paid after the third month.
Among people entrapped by loan sharks were those involved in money games and get-rich-quick schemes, as well as people living beyond their means and experiencing failing businesses.
Chong said borrowers would rake up an exorbitant amount of debts due to the high interest rate charged, which could be anything between 20% and 30%.
“Some are charged by the hour,” he added.
Boldly and blatantly challenging the authorities, illegal moneylenders are putting up stickers, posters and banners that are getting bigger and more striking, everywhere from lamp posts, traffic lights, trees, pillars to walls.
Even though the local councils and police hold regular joint operations to remove the illegal promotional materials, new ones go back up almost immediately.
Hopping on the social media bandwagon, loan sharks are also promoting their services on Facebook and WeChat, with some even claiming to be “licensed moneylenders”.
Like Chong, the Malaysian Muslim Consumers’ Association (PPIM) advise the public not to resort to borrowing from loan sharks no matter what problems they face.
According to its lead activist Datuk Nadzim Johan, there were many cases where borrowers were cheated and had to pay more than expected, The Star reported.
“I had a victim who borrowed RM5,000 and her interest shot up to around RM1 million because the Ah Long charged her interest by the hour.
“The victim was afraid and kept paying after being threatened. She ended up paying over RM60,000.
“PPIM confronted the Ah Long to negotiate and he returned around RM30,000 to the victim.
“Borrowing from Ah Long seems easy. Give them a call and you get the money.
“But nothing is that easy without a catch. It all goes back to financial awareness,” Nadzim was quoted saying.
PPIM has been trying to wipe out Ah Long activities and educate the public on the dangers of borrowing from loan sharks.
Log on to PPIM’s website ahlong.ppim.org.my to report loan-sharking activities and view previous cases of victimisation by Ah Longs.