There is no doubt that moneylending has helped a lot of Singaporeans over the years. A lot of individuals and families in need has relied on loans in order to survive the crisis and other emergency needs. Despite the benefits of moneylending, we have seen the in recent years the gradual increase of illegal or unlicensed moneylenders.

Known in Singapore as “Ah long,” these loan sharks give unfair interest rates and excessive fees, thereby leaving the borrowers drowning in debt. This article helps readers know and identify loan shark scams and illegal money lending activities.

Hooded computer hacker

Illegal Moneylender – How Do They Operate?

For many, differentiating illegal and legal moneylenders has become difficult because they scammers have become so good in deceiving people. But for those who know what they are looking, it is easy to identify which money lenders are fake and not.
Ah long or loan sharks fear being detected by the government. As a result, they would make hasty decisions just to make the borrower agree to what they want without questions. Here are some of the behaviour they should that should raise a red flag to borrowers.

1. They are becoming a little more aggressive and threatening. They use fear as a strategy to make borrowers agree with what they want. Loan sharks would threaten you with physical violence, or other forms of harassment just to you say yes to all they say.

2. They use foul and demeaning languages to make you fear them. They would insult you or treat you as stupid so that you will not question their procedures and guidelines.

3. They would prefer methods that bypass the official procedures set by the government and the Ministry of Law (MinLaw). They are willing to take short cuts just so they can make the loan application process fast.
Remember that a licensed lender will follow the protocol set by the government because failure to do so could revoke their license. This means that the money lender you are dealing with should never ask you to bypass and get around the rules. They should instead be the one to remind you of the proper ways and method of processing your loan application. If you encounter a lender who forces you to break these rules, you must be extra careful in trusting them.

4. They would approve your loan application without completing the proper loan requirements. To make sure that they get you as a client, they are willing to miss some requirements even though the government requires a certain protocol when it comes to applying for a loan.

5. They would ask for your ID or other personal documents for “safe-keeping.” They would then use these documents so that they can force you to comply with their demands in the future. Remember that no bank would use your ID and other documents to hold you.

6. Lastly, they would offer you a deal that is too good to be true. They would tell you that they have the lowest interest rates in the market or that they can give you a loan more than what is allowed by the law. They use such sweet deals to make you their client, but at the end of the day, they will take advantage of you.

 Businessman is holding a magnifying glass over a green man figure

How To Identify A Legitimate Moneylender

The first and probably the best way to identify licensed moneylenders in Singapore is to check the registry of moneylenders published by the Ministry of Law. This is where the government lists down all the licensed moneylenders in the country. 

The registry includes the vital information of the companies, including their office address, contact details, official website and many more. You can check this registry to make sure that you are dealing with a real licensed moneylender.

Here is the most recent copy of the list of licensed loan companies that you should trust when it comes to applying for a loan. Take note that this was as of July 2020. MinLaw updated this list regularly. For the most recent copy of this list, you can visit the website of the MinLaw here.

Aside from relying on the list or registry from the Minlaw, there are other ways on how you can differentiate unlicensed and licensed moneylenders.

First, licensed moneylenders are only allowed to use three channels when it comes to advertisement. These are through print or online advertisements, their own website, and their own building or office. This means that lenders advertising through SMS, flyers, and messaging apps are likely to be loan sharks Singapore-based companies.

Second, licensed moneylenders only use formal and official channels of communication such as through landlines, company email, and website chat boxes. These companies will not use social media, text messaging, and other informal modes of communication to process your application. If a company insists on using these informal modes of communication, they are likely unlicensed moneylending companies.

Third, the loan agreement or contract should indicate all the details of the loan application, including interest rates, late fees, payment fees, and many others. If the contract you are signing seems vague and incomplete, you might be dealing with a loan shark in Singapore. Do not sign any contract that is not clear to you. These documents are legally binding and can be used against you in the future.

Fourth, a licensed moneylender will never use force or violence to make you pay your loan repayments. They can contact you through email, phone, or a house visit, but they will not show any type of abuse. Only a loan shark Singapore-based company would intimidate customers into paying.

Fifth, a Singapore loan shark would offer you a loan term that is too good to be true. They would promise you a very low interest rate or low fees and charge just to make you take the loan offer. But at the end of the day, they will not keep these promises. Remember that moneylending companies do need to survive through making a profit from your loan.

human wearing a medical mask and a black suit pointing the money

How Do Illegal Moneylender Trick Us

Loan sharks in Singapore have learned through the years. They have made an effort to deceive people by making their illegal activities look legal. One way to do this is through using the same language when as the licensed moneylenders when dealing with their customers. They would copy the official emails and messages from licensed moneylenders and would change the detail to bear their company name.

Loan sharks were also successful in creating advertisement materials that would make their companies seem legitimate. They would create posters and social media posts that are as good if not better than the materials of licensed moneylenders. Given this, clients should not rely on these materials in choosing a loan company.

Real-life Loan Shark Cases

The threat of loan sharks is real and dangerous. There have been countless cases in the past where borrowers suffered from grave harassment from a loan shark or Ah long because if unpaid debt. Here are some of the most recent cases where borrowers experienced harassment from loan shark companies and their runners. May these stories serve as your reminders to never to trust illegal moneylenders.

The police reported that a man living at a residential unit along Punggol Drive was harassed by a 34-year old loan shark runner. The gate of the man’s unit was secured with a padlock and a chain alongside a debtor note. This happened in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, where people are expected to stay at home and observe safe distancing.

Another case involves a resident who lives along Choa Chu Kang North 7. The door and gate of their residential unit were splashed with paint. The harassment was carried out by a loan shark runner was only 17 years old. This indicates the aggression and the danger of loan sharks in Singapore. They are not afraid to do illegal activities just so they can collect the money owed to them by their clients.

Hacker caught for this crimes

If You’re Trapped By Loan Sharks, What Can You Do?

If you or your family member is being harassed by loan sharks, do not hesitate to notify law enforcement immediately. The illegal activities of these loan sharks can hurt you and your loved ones. It is best to report them so they will no longer harm people and continue their illegal moneylending activities.

Upon discovering that your contract puts you in a disadvantageous position, you can contact the MinLaw for any possible help or assistance. For example, if the lending company gave you extremely high interest rates on your loan, you can consult the Singapore government to make sure that your contract is fair and valid. Do not directly engage with loan sharks because they can be dangerous and violent.

Also, if you believe that you are dealing with an unlicensed money lender or moneylenders, you must contact the Monetary Authority or the Ministry of Law. These government agencies will make sure that these illegal moneylenders will be punished. Reporting these illegal moneylenders also ensure that no person needing money help will be deceived in the future.

If you have committed the mistake of sharing personal information and data to an illegal money lender, you have to change your IDs, cards, and other documents. This is to ensure that the lender you wrongly trusted can no longer use your data for illegal activities. This must also be a reminder to you never to trust unlicensed moneylenders. Do not ever share your information to people that you do not trust. Need more tips? Check out how to deal with loan shark harassment.


When browsing social media, you will encounter search terms like “lend money Singapore.” This indicates the kind of money problems that people in Singapore are facing. This partly explains why people are easy to trust loan companies and unscrupulous moneylenders. Given their need for money, they are willing to expose themselves to risky and dangerous groups.

This emphasises the need to be vigilant in identifying licensed moneylenders. Now more than ever, we need moneylenders who are authorised and legitimate. We must teach ourselves on ways to differentiate legal and illegal moneylenders. These illegal companies have become cunning in deceiving people which requires us to be careful and intelligent in making our loan-related decisions.

Moreover, we must be picky when it comes to choosing our moneylenders because the job of moneylenders is more than about loan. We develop a personal relationship with these loan companies. We will deal with them for the next years to come. This means that we need to be extra careful in choosing which licensed moneylender we should trust.

If you are looking for a best moneylender in Singapore, you might want to check out the deals offered by Fortune Credit Pte Ltd. We have an excellent customer service which means that we try to answer all the questions raised by our clients. You can contact us for inquiries and clarifications about loan-related and money concerns. We have a lot of experts on the team to help and guide you with your money and loan problems.