KUALA LUMPUR: Despite the many horror stories, a desperate young gambler turned to loan sharks to settle his debts and soon learned that a deal with them leads to big trouble.
A salesman, who wanted to be known only as Yong, thought he had found the answer to his problems when he spotted posters offering financial help.
“I called up the number and a man named Ivan said he could help me,” he said at a press conference, adding that it was the first time he ever sought help from loan sharks.
Yong, 27, asked for a RM30,000 loan in August 2015 but only received RM22,000, which he felt was still good enough.
He made good on the loan, following Ivan’s instructions to deposit repayments in three different local accounts.
In all, he eventually deposited RM27,000, which included interest on the loan, by December last year.
He had no idea of the nightmare that would follow.
Not long after that, Yong’s father received a call from a man calling himself Louis, who claimed that only RM10,000 of the loan was settled and there was an outstanding balance of RM17,500.
“My family and I decided not to pay up as we considered the debt settled,” Yong said.
Upset with Yong’s defiance, the loan sharks continued to harass him and splashed red paint on the family home.
Yong also tried to call Ivan to clarify matters but could not reach him.
Frightened, Yong and his family fled their home and lodged a police report at the Sri Petaling police station.
He also sought advice from MCA Public Services and Complaints Department chairman Datuk Seri Michael Chong.
Chong said loan sharks were bolder now, as he had received five similar cases to date involving this forceful extortion tactic.
He explained that individuals posing as debt collectors would harass their victims, claiming that they still owed money even if presented with proof of settlement.
Sometimes, he said, even those who were not borrowers became “victims of circumstance”, citing the example of a new homeowner who was harassed by Ah Long because the person who lived there previously was supposedly in debt to them.
“We’re not sure where these debt collectors get the information about their victims. It is worse than blackmail,” he said.
He said loan sharks also tried to throw the authorities off their track by muddling up the paper trail linking them to bank accounts.
Chong said he had brought the matter up with the police and Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said he would personally look into the matter.
Chong also urged “Ivan” to come forward to rectify the situation and advised borrowers to seek help from only licensed moneylenders.
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