Debtor turned loanshark runner who was jailed and fined $900,000 had more than 500 charges

Singapore state courts (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

He owed money to an unlicensed moneylender and decided to be a loanshark runner to pay off his debts.

Ho Mian Quan was caught and slapped with 518 charges related to unlicensed moneylending. He was a private hire driver for Grab when he was arrested.

On Tuesday (9 April), the 38-year-old Singaporean was jailed for three years and fined $900,000 on 30 charges under the Moneylenders Act, which he admitted to. The remaining charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.

Ho began borrowing from loansharks in 2014. At one point, he owed 10 different unlicensed moneylenders a total of $20,000 but later managed to pay off his debts.

When Ho borrowed $5,000 from another loanshark, who was known as “Michael”, he was unable to pay off the loan. Ho began working for Michael and was paid a monthly salary of $2,000 as a runner. He later worked for another loanshark, who was known as “Hugo”.

Among Ho’s duties were collecting ATM cards and internet banking transaction tokens, handling cash withdrawn from or deposited into bank accounts, and handing over cash to couriers. He also performed electronic bank transactions on behalf of the loansharks. 

Apart from his role as a runner, Ho also bought information of potential borrowers from a man who had access to data from licensed moneylenders and sold it to loansharks. He sold information which included the borrowers’ names, NRIC numbers, address and mobile numbers, in the form of telco call logs or Excel spreadsheets.

Ho contacted numerous loansharks to sell the information between 5 November 2015 and 25 May 2017 and earned $3,000 monthly from this endeavour.

If Ho is unable to pay the $900,000 fine, he will have to serve 30 weeks’ imprisonment.

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