Loan shark gangs target neighbours of victims

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 June, 2011, 12:00am


Illegal debt collectors are terrorising the neighbours of borrowers to increase pressure on the debtors to pay.

Police revealed the tactic yesterday after arresting 14 people in connection with a HK$25 million loan-sharking and debt-collection racket in which gamblers were charged interest of up to 300 per cent a day.

'They jam door locks with glue and pour paint on the doors of the neighbours' flats in order to make debtors come forward and pay,' Superintendent Albert Hui Kwai-sang, of New Territories South regional crime unit, said. Anti-triad officers have detained 14 men linked to two Macau loan-shark syndicates and six Hong Kong illegal debt collection agencies in the past two days.

Hui said more than 200 debtors, owing more than HK$25 million, were involved. Police said the gangs preyed on Hong Kong gamblers in casinos in Macau, offering interest-free loans to unlucky punters.

'In one extreme case, one gambler ... borrowed HK$50,000 from the loan-shark syndicate [in Macau],' Hui said. 'After he was escorted back to Hong Kong, he was forced to sign a debt note for HK$160,000.

'After the borrowers were escorted back to Hong Kong, they were handed over to illegal debt collectors and held in a guest house, where they were forced to sign a debt note for a bigger amount,' Hui said. Those who refused to sign faced assault. If intimidation failed, debtors' relatives and neighbours were harassed.

'Victims who had no money to pay were taken to financial companies to borrow money,' he said.

The 14 were being questioned last night. No one had been charged.