SINGAPORE: Youths and potential borrowers, who may be lured by the promise of easy money, are the main target of a public education campaign against unlicensed moneylending.
The inaugural campaign was jointly launched by the Singapore Police Force and the National Crime Prevention Council on Friday.
The campaign aims to raise public awareness about the harmful effects that unlicensed moneylending has on borrowers and their families.
It also aims to deter youths and other potential recruits from working for loansharking syndicates.
Another purpose of the campaign is to and mobilise the community to enhance their vigilance against unlicensed moneylending activities.
Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean said: "Youths, in particular, should be wary of tactics used by loansharks to entice people into working for them, such as offering attractive monetary rewards or lying that they are legitimate moneylenders. Parents can help by supervising their children’s activities, and warning them against the lure of ’easy money’".
Gerald Balendran Singham, vice chairman of the National Crime Prevention Council, said: "A lot of it is actually because of ignorance. They don’t realise and because of the distractions and the many opportunities out there. Some may be starting new businesses, some could be attempting some forms of gambling. And they don’t realise that going to loansharks, it may appear to be a very easy option. But it comes with several perils and it’s illegal."
At the campaign launch, a new 45—second television commercial featuring a debtor harassed by loansharks was screened.
Available in English and Mandarin, the video will be aired on free—to—air television channels from December 3.
As part of the campaign, there will be a series of road shows from December 2012 to March 2013, including talks for secondary school students.
According to statistics from the police, 109 youths were arrested for unlicensed moneylending activities in the first half of this year.
There has also been a rising number of debtors who end up working for loansharks as they are unable to pay off their debts. They open and provide bank accounts for loansharks activities, or serve as runners.
The police have stepped up their efforts to clamp down on unlicensed moneylending activities over the past two years.
In the first half of this year, 1,033 people were arrested for illegal moneylending activities. This is an increase of 21.8 per cent, compared to the 848 people arrested in the same period last year.
In the first half of this year, there were 5,228 cases of unlicensed moneylending and related harassment cases. This is a drop of 21.3 per cent, compared to the same period last year, when there were 6,642 such cases.
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