KUALA LUMPUR – A Johor-based Ah Long syndicate has been making at least RM3mil a month for the past three years, living off the misery of desperate people.
The Ah Long charged exorbitant interest – as high as 20% a month. The interest rate would increase daily if the “clients” failed to repay on schedule.
Those who defaulted were threatened and had paint thrown at their houses.
Operating from shophouses, apartments and even high-end homes, the syndicate lured their victims through flyers and word of mouth, promising “easy” money for the desperate.
Like any other firm, the company has a long list of employees – managers, enforcers, collectors – under the mastermind.
Started as a “business” in Johor, the syndicate expanded to Selangor, Penang, Kedah, Malacca and Negri Sembilan in the course of three years, preying on those who needed fast cash.
But its run has come to an end. After careful surveillance over the past three months, a task force from Bukit Aman raided various operations run by the syndicate and arrested 31 of its members aged between 23 and 40, including the mastermind, on Monday and yesterday.
“We worked together with the Bukit Aman Money Laundering Crimes team to bring down the syndicate. They are responsible for inflicting misery on at least 1,500 victims nationwide,” said Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Comm Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani.
Even the mastermind was not spared in the raid called Ops Vulture, said Comm Acryl.
“The main target (leader) was caught in Puchong. The remand orders will be done in their respective states,” he said. Asked if any of the suspects were titled, he said none of the suspects held the title of Datuk.
“We are still in the process of ascertaining the total number of victims involved. Until yesterday (Monday), the syndicate’s list showed at least 1,500 victims nationwide,” he said.
He said the arrests were all-encompassing, comprising both the higher echelons of the syndicate including supervisors, as well as the money collectors themselves.
Comm Acryl revealed that more than RM25,000 was confiscated, along with 16 cars, and two houses (in Negri Sembilan). The total worth of the items seized is over RM1.3mil.
Comm Acryl said that no victims had been physically injured.
“As of now, the syndicate has not hurt or held any defaulter captive,” said Comm Acryl, who advised the public to stop using loan sharks.
“The responsibility of eradicating illegal money lending is not just on the shoulders of the authorities. The reality is that these syndicates exist because of the demand from the public.
“The police will continue to conduct operations and raids against these activities, but if the public still insists on using such services, this problem can never be solved,” he said. – The Star Online