DSI targets Chinese loan sharks
The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has ordered frozen 157 bank accounts containing more than 1.5 billion baht belonging to a gang of predatory lenders from China.
The illegal gang was found to have offered loans through apps that imitate the names of several well-known legal money lenders, according to Pol Lt Col Korrawat Panpraphakorn, the DSI director-general.
The agency was spurred into action by complaints lodged by victims via the DSI's Rootan app.
Pol Lt Col Korrawat said the complaints were directed at 30 money lending apps which charged exorbitantly high interest rates.
The DSI recently raided two offices in Bangkok operated by the gang and arrested a Chinese national identified as Pin Liew, 35. He has been charged with running an organised crime, importing false information into a computer system and conspiring to extend loans for which the interest is higher than legally allowed.
According to the DSI, in some cases, the gang demanded interest totalling at least 750% per year. The interest, however, was charged under the guise of various fees.
If customers defaulted or delayed repayments, the gang would post their pictures on the internet to humiliate them and impose a late fee of between 400-600 baht per day.
The DSI investigation revealed the gang had at least 157 bank accounts with more than 1.5 billion baht in them.
Pol Lt Col Korrawat said the gang also terrorised victims by calling them frequently to chase after the debts. It followed customers using their personal data supplied when they registered to apply for the loan.
The DSI chief said the gang had almost unrestricted access to customer information on their social media platforms including Facebook and Line Chat app. Some victims also received calls from the gang on their mobile phones. The DSI also said the gang threatened to expose victims' poor credit history and told them it could cost them their jobs.