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52 people in Bangkok arrested for alleged involvement in illegal loan operation

Caitlin Ashworth

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PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Thai immigration police arrested 52 people who were allegedly involved in an illegal loan shark operation using a smartphone application called “Speedwallet” to provide loans with interest rates higher than the legal limit.

Police had received complaints from several of the application’s customers. Speedwallet provided loans of 5,000 baht to 20,000 baht and collected interest rates of 12% to 15% each week, police say. The legal limit is 15% each year.

“Further investigation also showed that they had previously allegedly run eight applications before Speedwallet and had more than 5,000 customers.”

One customer told police that anyone who failed to repay their debt would be harassed with several phone calls.

Police raided a home in Bangkok’s Wangthonglang district, arresting 5 Chinese nationals and a Singaporean national allegedly ran the operation. The other 46 people arrested allegedly worked as debt collectors.

“The company allegedly hired several Thai staff as debt collectors, with a salary of 12,000 baht per month.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 3:23 pm

    12 percent on a B5000 loan in a week seems fair to me.
    Loan sharks lend to people that no bank will lend to. I consider it a service.
    If some woman has had her electricity cut off because she did not pay a bill, and her kids want to eat hot food, loans such as these are welcome.
    The interest is only B600 on a B5000 loan, and it is easy to pick up.

    • Avatar

      Michael

      Friday, February 5, 2021 at 12:31 am

      Are you joking?

      If you already have no money to buy food for your kids how are you going to pay 600 Baht interest?

    • Avatar

      Michael

      Friday, February 5, 2021 at 5:09 am

      Mr Toby, Are you trying to inform readers that there is nothing wrong with this loan sharking scheme?

      In your given example, a very poor Thai, single family, financially desperate, head of household mother with children to feed borrows 5,000 baht from very aggressive people.

      You are aware that her interest on the loan is 600 baht each week which you say “is easy to pick up.”

      If same family cannot afford electricity and food and have little to no income, where is the mother going to get 5,000 baht to repay the loan? And no doubt each day, the destitute mother struggles to find even 600 baht to pay for daily necessities like food, medical / health needs / laundry / public transportation and many other things.

      Then the mother, has to deal with non compassionate “private debt collectors’ who essentially are learning on the job, and may even threaten the mother with words of violence to make the payment.

      Paying the minimum 600 baht payment each week for one year, she will have paid 31,200 baht. This is over 600 percent interest.

      Can you even begin to understand the daily fears, stresses, feelings of failure, sadness that the mother has in your example?

      I think not, Mr Toby.

      You are indeed clueless to the daily struggles of the very poor.

      I have only lived in Thailand 3 years, but have personally known many Thai families that struggle to find an extra 600 baht each week. I have given many different families hundreds of dollars in totality each year that I am here. These are poor people on the street, and have generously tipped to a house cleaner mother in similar situation that you describe, sometimes food cart vendors, people washing my car, etc.

      Extreme loan sharking needs to be actively addressed and eliminated.

    • Avatar

      chupapi

      Friday, February 5, 2021 at 7:55 pm

      you are nuts

  2. Avatar

    James Pate

    Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 4:52 pm

    Last time I checked, the legal limit on credit cards is 18% and, 28% on unsecured personal loans, compounded annually. Loan sharking is a pernicious business. What many of these borrowers need is personal financial and budgeting education. They’re not going to get that from loan sharks. If someone really needs 5000 baht and has nothing to pawn, they need some serious counselling. Yes, these usurious lenders broke the law and they most probably employ knee-breakers. They must be punished. However, I have heard of much worse.

    • Avatar

      Slugger

      Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 5:10 pm

      TIT

  3. Avatar

    Mr cynic

    Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 6:28 pm

    They are no worst than the payday loan companies and if they were not needed they would soon go out of buissness.
    mafias/organised crime are not without their uses.
    I used to live in triad controlled area of a big city many years ago and street crime was non existent because of it.the same could not be said of the police controlled area of the city.

    • Avatar

      Toby Andrews

      Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 11:09 pm

      Exactly, loan sharks are lovable people really.
      If the registration fee, taxes and processing fee is added to the loans banks make, the interest is quite high.
      Er, I was a debt collector once myself -a legal one.

  4. Avatar

    albert

    Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 9:26 pm

    an so when they will stop the SHOPPING MALL app, a classic PONZI scheme???

  5. Avatar

    Sima

    Friday, February 5, 2021 at 1:20 pm

    They are scum who take advantage of the poor. They know full well that a large percentage of those wanting these loans are desperate and unable to repay these loans quickly. Yes you could argue that the loan taker has the option of not taking these loans but, as I said, they are often desperate and see no other way out.

    • Avatar

      Remi

      Monday, February 8, 2021 at 2:21 pm

      I thought they were the same guys, am I wrong?

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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