KUALA LUMPUR: Loan sharks are using foreign mobile numbers to send intimidating messages to victims.
Datuk Seri Michael Chong said the "Ah Long" (local slang for loan shark) were probably using foreign numbers to avoid detection.
In a press conference on Tuesday (July 16), the MCA Public Services and Complaints Department chief highlighted the new tactic, which was used on retiree Ganesh Kumar.
Ganesh, 59, said he had never engaged loan sharks before, but his semi-detached house was sprayed with red paint on June 21.
"The culprit left a flyer with two Singapore mobile numbers. He called the number on the flyer and was told his son owed them SD$6,000 (RM18,200)," said Chong
Four days later, Ganesh was shocked to receive a video of a house being torched.
"They sprayed the house again on June 25 and sent videos of how they torched houses," said Chong, adding Ganesh's son had denied borrowing that much money.
Chong said another victim, 29-year-old salesman Lee Kok Wai, also received videos of houses being torched.
Lee said he applied to borrow RM10,000 for his online business on June 25 after seeing an advertisement on Facebook.
"A person using the name Henry responded using a (Singapore-based) mobile number, saying his RM10,000 loan application had been approved.
"But only RM1,500 was deposited into his account. The caller claimed they would only bank in the remaining RM8,500 if Lee paid back the RM1,500 plus another RM750 in interest.
"Lee paid RM2,250 and told them he was no longer interested in taking up the loan but the Ah Long insisted he should pay them RM7,500 in ten instalments," he said.
Lee refused to pay and that was when he received two videos of houses being set on fire.
He subsequently lodged a police report in Seri Kembangan and filed a complaint with MCA.
Meanwhile Ganesh lodged police reports on June 21 and July 4 and installed a CCTV system after the first incident on June 21.
Ganesh asked the Ah Long to show documents to prove his 32-year-old son had borrowed money.
"But the Ah Long did not want to meet to show the documents. Instead, they threatened to burn down my house if I don't bank in the money," said Ganesh.