KUALA LUMPUR: Alarming reports reveal that extortion syndicates hailing from Singapore have adopted a deceptive tactic, posing as moneylenders on social media platforms to ensnare unsuspecting victim into fraudulent loan schemes.
Once lured in, victims are subjected to relentless harassment for repayment of loans they never received.
One such victim, a 29-year-old baker identified as Kwan, fell prey to this scheme when he responded to a loan application advertisement on Facebook several months ago.
Loanshark demanded “cancellation fee”
Originating from Karak, Pahang, but working in Singapore, Kwan initially applied for a S$10,000 (RM34,000) loan out of curiosity.
He had a change of heart and decided to cancel the application after noticing something amiss in the terms and condition.
However, the people who put up the link had already obtained his personal details.
Shortly after his decision, Kwan received an ominous call from the purported moneylender, demanding a hefty cancellation fee of S$2,000 (RM6,800).
“They claimed that the fee could be paid in installments,” Kwan’s wife, Chong, shared in a press conference on Monday.
“My husband first transferred $200 to their bank account, but they claimed that they did not receive the money.
Because of that, my husband refused to pay any more of the fees.”
For refusing to comply any further, Kwan soon found himself embroiled in a nightmarish ordeal.
The extortionists, with unsettling ease, traced Kwan’s family residence in Karak through his former employer and initiated a campaign of intimidation targeting his parents, siblings, and wife.
Threats were made, demanding payment of the cancellation fee.
Sets victim’s home ablaze and threatening to kidnap children
The extortionist claimed to have deposited S$300 (RM1,020) into Kwan’s wife’s bank account, producing a counterfeit bank-in slip as proof, as reported by The Star.
Fearing for their safety, Kwan’s wife, identified as Chong, transferred S$200 (RM680) into the extortionist’s account, only for him to deny receiving it.
Matters escalated further as the extortionists resorted to arson, with incidents of them setting fires outside the family’s residence on two occasions on Sep 11 and 15.
Security camera footage captures the second occurrence, which occurred around 3 am.
In the video, an individual wearing a black shirt, black pants, a black cap, and a mask can be observed pouring gasoline outside the entrance gate of a residence.
Ms. Zhang recounted that her family members spotted this individual and shouted to deter him from his actions.
In response to being noticed, the man ignited a lighter near the gasoline, resulting in a sudden burst of flames, after which he swiftly fled the scene.
Fortunately, timely action allowed the fire to be extinguished, and there were no reports of significant injuries.
They went as far as issuing threats to kidnap the couple’s two small children, aged four and five, while insisting on an extra S$3,000 (RM10,200) as a purported charge for arranging the arson at their residence.
Family fears for safety, lodges a police report
Chong, a 28-year-old storekeeper, and her in-laws have lodged three police reports at the Bentong police station regarding the relentless harassment.
“In addition to being harassed by the loansharks, my mother, husband, sister, and mother-in-law were all implicated,” Ms. Zhang said.
“I quit my job because I was worried about my own safety, and my children no longer attend kindergarten,” she continued.
Seeking assistance, she also turned to the Malaysian Chinese Association’s (MCA) Public Services and Complaints Department head, Datuk Seri Michael Chong, for help.
Michael said in the press conference on Monday: “They are Singaporean extortionists on the pretext of being moneylenders and are targeting Malaysian victims.
“The Singapore police are also aware of these syndicates. Please stop resorting to loan sharks, and if you must, take loans from licensed moneylenders.”
Ms Zhang said she had reported the harassment to the police three times and hoped to use the press conference to stop the loansharks from bothering her family again.
“My husband has resigned from his job as a baker and plans to return to Malaysia to deal with this matter in the near future,” Ms. Zhang added.
Michael has committed to taking the case to the police for further investigation
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