A loan shark syndicate was reportedly operating in Macau for at least two years before the Judiciary Police were able to make any arrests. Just this week, eleven individuals were arrested for allegedly being part of the syndicate, with the loans involved amounting to more than 10 million patacas (about $1.25m).
Earlier this week police officers were able to catch four men from mainland China offering such a loan to a female tourist who was visiting a casino. After further investigations, it was revealed that the group of four were part of an organized syndicate that had been preying on tourists from the mainland for more than two years.
Ho Chan Nam is a spokesman for the police who stated that the process of the syndicate would see the low-level members visit casinos and gather personal information on potential clients. This information would be used to conduct a background check, which was completed by the higher-level members of the group. The members of the group would consult the ringleaders before they would approach the tourist for loan requirements.
A 10% payment would be required of the individual for the loan to be approved and then 20% would have to be paid on the money won each time. Not only has the group been tied to the loan scheme but also to several loansharking harassment cases. Such cases include keeping those with debts in a hotel room or even kidnapping individuals from the mainland with identification documents taken from the gambler until the money is paid.
According to the police investigation, over 500 individuals had borrowed money from the group and the loans totaled 10 million patacas. 55 of these individuals have reported the group to the police. It is believed that one of the masterminds behind the syndicate was working as a chemist or at a local hospital in Macau. Police have raided some of the dens of the syndicate and seized identity documents as well as receipts.