A man and his family nearly lost their home in Malaysia on two separate occasions this month, after he clicked on a Facebook link in hopes of taking a loan.
Kwan, who worked as a baker in Singapore, had tried to borrow $10,000 by clicking on an advertisement on the social media platform in May, Malaysian media reported on Monday (Sept 18).
He filled up a form to apply for the loan, but later tried to cancel the application after noticing something amiss in the terms and conditions.
Kwan, 29, then received a phone call from the ‘moneylender’, insisting that he pay a $2,000 cancellation fee.
“They claimed that the fee could be paid in installments,” Kwan’s wife, Chong, shared in a press conference on Monday.
“My husband first transferred $200 to their bank account, but they claimed that they did not receive the money. Because of that, my husband refused to pay any more of the fees.”
It was in September that things started to get out of hand for Kwan, however.
The ‘moneylender’ turned out to be loan sharks, and they had managed to find Kwan’s home address in Pahang and harassed both his wife and his children.
Aside from phone calls, the loan sharks also threatened to kidnap their two children, aged four and five, the Star reported.
On Sept 11 and 15, runners even set Kwan’s home ablaze. The fires were extinguished with no serious injuries, the Oriental Daily reported.
The couple then received a call from the loan sharks on Sept 17, demanding that they pay them an additional $3,000 ‘fee’ for sending someone to set their house on fire.
Chong, a 28-year-old shopkeeper, told the media that her entire family was affected by this situation.
“I quit my job because I’m worried about my own safety, while my children have stopped going to kindergarten,” she said.
Chong added: “My husband has recently resigned from his job as a baker and plans to return to China to deal with this issue.”
The woman and her in-laws have since lodged three police reports on the matter, as well as approached the Malaysian Chinese Association’s Public Services and Complaints Department head, Michael Chong, for help.
Michael said in the press conference on Monday: “They are Singaporean extortionists on the pretext of being moneylenders and are targeting Malaysian victims.
“The Singapore police are also aware of these syndicates. Please stop resorting to loan sharks, and if you must, take loans from licensed moneylenders.”
Others falling for loan scams
A similar incident happened in October last year after a man tried to take a $50,000 loan via a Facebook advertisement, the Oriental Daily reported.
He instead found himself down $8,900 after trying to cancel his loan.
But he wasn’t let off the hook just yet, as the loan sharks took things a step further.
“I learned that petrol bombs were thrown at my home, so I went back [to my hometown] to report the incident… my neighbours had a petrol bomb thrown at their home and their home was set on fire… I felt so sorry.”