Loansharks are the scourge of Macau's gaming industry and many of them come from Hong Kong, a senior officer of the Macau Security Forces said. 'Loansharks preying on unlucky gamblers remain the No 1 problem at Macau's casinos,' the officer said. He estimated that several hundred loansharks prowled Macau's 11 casinos. 'Most of the victims are gamblers from Hong Kong, but many of the loansharks are also Hong Kong citizens,' the officer said. According to statistics from Macau Security Forces, reported loansharking cases rose 42 per cent from 108 cases in 2001 to 153 last year. A forces spokesman attributed the rise mainly to improved police measures to crack down on loansharks, including last year's opening of a Gaming Offences Prevention Division by the Macau Judicial Police. Loansharks, most of them believed to be triads, are known to hold defaulting clients at private flats to force family members and friends to pay back the 'instant gambling loans', plus huge interest rates. Some of the loansharks are also known to accompany their victims to Hong Kong to ensure repayment of their debts. A spokesman for Stanley Ho Hung-sun's casino company, Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, said loansharking was a 'matter for the police'. Gamblers should know that borrowing money for gambling from loansharks was 'not only wrong, but dangerous', the spokesman added.