KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 853 illegal moneylenders, or Ah Long, have been detained nationwide so far this year, with more than RM2.9mil worth of loans on their books.
Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) director Comm Datuk Mohd Kamarudin Md Din (pic) said police were aware the Covid-19 pandemic had caused many people to lose their jobs, with some resorting to borrowing from Ah Long.
"We are continuously monitoring and conducting operations against Ah Long syndicates in the country.
"These thugs trap their victims with high-interest loans and resort to various tactics to extort from them," he told an online press conference on Friday (Sept 24).
The latest operations were conducted in Johor, Pahang, Terengganu and Kedah on Sept 7 and Sept 23, Comm Mohd Kamarudin said.
"We detained 52 individuals, including five local women and a Vietnamese woman, during the operations.
"Those detained were from three Ah Long syndicates and they have been in operation since 2019," he said.
Various items were seized from the suspects, including 24 vehicles, 142 mobile phones, 178 bank cards, six laptops, 42 photocopies of various MyKads, 81 moneylending banners and RM341,323 cash, Comm Mohd Kamarudin said.
"Investigations showed the syndicates used social media and chat messaging apps to advertise their services.
"The interest rate is between 10% and 20% within a week.
"The syndicates would also offer other loans to cover repayments of past loans, ensuring that the victims continue to owe them money," he added.
If any victims failed to settle their loans, the syndicates would resort to visiting their homes or workplaces while some would even throw molotov cocktails or red paint at their houses, he said.
Comm Mohd Kamarudin advised the public not to be fooled by "sweet" offers from Ah Long syndicates.
"Always opt for moneylending companies and financial institutions certified by Bank Negara.
"Check the authenticity of moneylending companies via legitimate channels such as the Housing and Local Government Ministry's portal at www.kpkt.gov.my," he said.
He also reminded the public to always be aware of the latest scams and tactics used by syndicates by checking the CCID Facebook page.
Ultimately, he said, the CCID needs the cooperation of the public to inform police of any commercial crime.
"They can do so by calling the CCID Scam Response Centre at 03-2610 1559/03-2610 1599 or through WhatsApp at 013-211 1222, or the nearest police station," he said.