In Singapore, incidences of harassment cases by loan sharks have significantly gone up in recent years. Most of these involve domestic workers who loaned out amounts that they cannot settle within the given payment time frame by their creditors.
In such cases, since the law does not allow for domestic workers to perform extra work outside of their legal employers, the money they owe their creditors, which increase significantly over time, eventually becomes too big an amount for them to pay with their meager earnings. Thus, the burden falls on the legal employer who technically is the only source of income for the domestic workers who borrowed from loan sharks. This set-up leaves employers vulnerable to cases of fraud and harassment.
Man Harassed by Loan Shark for Maid’s Unsettled Loan
In relation to this, a 48-year old Singaporean man has reportedly been harassed by loan sharks after their 40-year-old Indonesian domestic worker failed to return to work after taking annual leave in her home country, as shared in a report by the Asia Times.
According to the report, the Singaporean employer, a salesman surnamed “Lee,” employed a worker named “Lisa” from Indonesia back in 2017 to look after his 82-year old mother.
On April 1 though, Lisa requested to take a leave because she needed to be with her father who had been admitted to the ICU in a hospital back in Indonesia. Upon hearing this, Lisa’s employers quickly bought her a ferry ticket to Batam Island for April 3, and she promised to resume work a week later.
However, only two hours after Lisa’s departure, Lee received phone calls from loan sharks demanding that he pay off a loan worth SGD 500 (USD 367) on behalf of his domestic worker, or else they would chain up the gate at their home and splash it with paint as a warning.
At this point, Lee could no longer reach Lisa as her phone number was already inactive. This prompted Lee to seek help from Lisa’s employment agency, who also failed to contact the worker.
Lee’s elderly mother also received two calls from illicit moneylenders, which made Lee to suspect that his former employee had owed debts to various parties of at least USD 2,380 (USD 1,749).
Lee noted that he had treated his employee like family, recalling that he had given Lisa salary advances three times in June 2018, February 2019, and then last month. Each time it was due to her claiming that her parents were severely ill.
An Indonesian domestic worker who lived next door also told Lee that she had been victimized by Lisa, who had convinced her that her father was seriously ill and that she needed some money to help him get to the hospital. Lisa was able to borrow a total of SGD 800 from the said worker before entirely disappearing.