What can you do to prevent loan shark. How do you differentiate a licensed moneylender from illegal moneylender.

Source: Asiaone News
URL: http://www.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Singapore/Story/A1Story20120608-351244.html
By: Kenneth Tan, The New Paper

They splashed red paint, scribbled messages on walls and even slipped “hell notes” under her door.

An “Ah Long” – or loan shark – and his runners were behind these acts that tuition teacher Lim Ser Hwee had to endure.

She is one of many innocent victims of illegal moneylenders.

The 34-year-old said: “I have never borrowed money. Fear is the most effective weapon of loan sharks. I was so affected by the harassment that I clammed up and was afraid to speak to strangers.”

At Stomper SG LM’s suggestion, a new category has been created in Singapore Seen, Stomp’s popular citizen-journalism section, called Owe Money Pay Money.

The idea is to have an online space where Stompers can report loan-shark activities or share their experiences. Hopefully, this on-the-ground reporting will lead to loan sharks being brought to justice.

Over the years, Stomp’s citizen journalists have brought to light hundreds of cases of harassment by illegal moneylenders.

Similar to Ser Hwee’s experiences, many incidents involve either mistaken identities, or loan sharks who deliberately target innocent people to put pressure on those who owe them money.

This was the case for unfortunate Stompers like Gary and Sulaimi, both of whom were targeted by loan sharks who attacked their homes at Telok Blangah and Woodlands Avenue 6, respectively.

Stomp also revealed that, through its legion of citizen journalists, some legal moneylenders are using unscrupulous tactics to demand payment.

Stomper Thasim wrote in to warn netizens about how “legal loan sharks” would visit their debtors’ workplaces to harass colleagues and bosses.

First-hand reports involving loan sharks have also been collated into the Owe Money Pay Money category, which serves several functions.

The stories are a clear warning to loan sharks and runners that their actions are being monitored by citizen journalists.

It also serves as an online database of loan-shark activity, which in time could help the authorities track down culprits.

This is especially significant in cases where runners are caught on camera, as in the incident reported by Stomper Hobbes in March.

He had captured footage of a youth loitering around the common corridor near his home, carrying a tin of paint in a plastic bag.

In addition to allowing Stompers to discuss their experiences openly, the stories help readers, who may be going through similar problems, understand that they are not alone.

In certain cases, victims even saw an immediate improvement in their situations following a Stomp story, as residents living nearby were alerted to loan sharks’ activities in their area.

Stompers are invited to leave comments and interact via the stories’ comment sections and mood meters.

Don’t let illegal moneylenders make you feel like a prisoner in your own home. If you have a personal experience with loan sharks to share, send your report to Stomp.

Your experiences might just make a difference to a fellow victim who is struggling to cope, or even help bring a criminal to justice.

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