Loan shark gang preys on Phuket sea gypsies

RAWAI, PHUKET: Police arrested a gang alleged to be loan sharks when they were attempting to collect money from members of the Rawai sea gypsy community at about 1am on Thursday.

The arrests were made by Chalong Police after they received a report from the community that members of the gang had entered the community to forcibly collect on outstanding loans and were possibly armed.

The borrowers, mostly poor fisherman, claimed that it is very difficult to fish at the moment due to rough seas and tried to renegotiate the 20% monthly interest rate.

A number of other residents in the village, many of whom owe money to the same loan sharks, heard the commotion and came outside, surrounding the two men. They in turn called up other members of their gang to join them.

With the tension mounting, someone in the community called the police.

Officers led by Pol Maj Jaran Bangprisarit rushed to the scene, where they arrested 41-year-old Somsak Jantasorn of Pathum Thani and five other men.

Seized as evidence was a list of 35 borrowers and Bt11,000 in cash.

Phuket Provincial Police Commander Pigad Thantipong, said that the six men arrested were not moneylenders, but were employed as collectors for a Bangkok-based loan shark.

The lender sends funds via bank transfer to locals seeking loans and the collectors receive 5,000 baht for their part in collecting. There are hundreds of people in Phuket who borrow money in this manner, he said.

According to Maj Jaran, there are an estimated 40 loan-shark gangs operating in Phuket.

— Nationchannel & MCOT

Phuket News
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