Lisa’s desire to take care of her family was how she got into this situation in the first place.
In December 2020, she was barely earning S$2,000 per month as an assistant security officer when she had a baby.
She said her unemployed husband used her money for his personal expenses, adding that he soon got tired of childcare.
Lisa, who also has a daughter – who was 5 years old – living in Malaysia with her uncle, decided to go back to work during her confinement.
“He wasn’t helping me with anything…I needed to support my family and pay the bills,” she said. “And if I have enough money, I will go back to study. Because Singapore is all about (getting) the degree.”
Lisa said her thoughts faded when she went online to look for loan sharks.
I found a company with a name and website that seemed legitimate enough, so I clicked on the icon to connect via WhatsApp.
This was the beginning of Lisa’s months-long nightmare that centered around constant demands for money as well as threats to her family, before culminating in her being investigated as a money laundering suspect.
The lender asked Lisa, a permanent resident of Singapore, her personal details before the loan was released. So, she sent pictures of her payment slips as well as her Singaporean and Malaysian ID cards.
The first red flag was when the money lender asked her to pay an administration fee of up to 10 percent of the loan.
“They told me this after I gave my details,” she said. “I had doubts. Why do I need to pay when I have never received what I want to borrow?”
When Lisa refused to pay, the man began to scold her. He sent voice notes threatening her family and videos of front doors drenched in paint, a common intimidation tactic used by loans.
“I was afraid,” she said. I panicked and didn’t know what to do. I just transferred whatever amount I had.”
Lisa eventually paid the man 3,000 Singapore dollars, but instead of getting her loan, the man demanded that she settle the delay fee as well.