For a while, the hotline of the logistics company Long Rich Vietnam Co. Ltd has been ringing almost all day. The appellants are loan sharks demanding that the company cooperate and “hand over” the workers who borrowed money from them.
The loan sharks threaten that if the company, which is based in the Linh Trung 2 export processing zone in Thu Duc town of HCMC, does not cooperate, they will post harmful information about the company on social media or will send gangbangs to damage his factory.
The incessant calls, starting early in the morning and continuing until late at night, prevent the company from receiving calls from its customers or partners.
And that’s not all. Loan sharks also call company officials, including union leaders and those who work in its administrative office on their cellphones, making the same demands and threats.
A man stops in front of the gate of a factory in the town of Thu Duc where loan shark advertisements are pasted everywhere, July 2022. Photo VnExpress/Le Tuyet
Nguyen Thi Thuy Van, president of the Long Rich union, said nearly 30% of the roughly 5,000 workers the factory has hired have borrowed money from loan sharks through mobile apps.
There are cases where the workers had only borrowed 10 million VND, but after only a few months the loan and the interest increased to 100 million VND, Van said.
After a while, when the workers were no longer able to repay the loan sharks, they changed their phone numbers and tried in every way to hide from the loan sharks.
Van said loan sharks had previously smeared the company by posting photoshopped images of its senior executives on social media and accusing them of scamming.
Hurt your family ‘one by one’
Bich Hien, a human resources staff member at shoemaker Pouyuen Vietnam Co. Ltd in HCMC’s Binh Tan district, said the factory received nearly 70 calls from loan sharks a day, with some dropping to 1 or 2 am except for dozens of emails. defamation of the company.
Hien said the loan sharks not only had her mobile phone number, but also her husband’s, the names of her family members and the addresses of her children’s schools.
They told her that if she does not cooperate and make the workers pay, her family will be hurt “one by one”.
According to the Pouyuen Vietnam union, about 400 to 500 workers have borrowed from loan sharks and are unable to repay the money. Many of them have changed mobile numbers or even stopped working at Pouyuen.
“Company operations have been severely affected,” Hien said.
Long Rich Vietnam and Pouyuen Vietnam were unable to hire new employees as their recruitment hotlines were also disrupted by loan sharks.
Pham The Toan, HR manager at Cholimex Food JSC at Vinh Loc industrial park in Binh Chanh district of HCMC, said the factory needs 500 workers, but he dares not pick up his phone these days. this if it’s a strange number because he’s afraid it might be a loan shark call.
Photos of Toan have previously been posted on social media with content slandering him for protecting “fraudulent” workers.
“There were days when I couldn’t make or receive phone calls because of the loan sharks.”
Cholimex Food JSC workers at Vinh Loc industrial park in Binh Chanh district of HCMC, July 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Le Tuyet
Despite the harassment and threats, companies and their factories received no protection.
Kieu Ngoc Hoa, human resources manager of Samsung HCMC CE Complex Co. Ltd at Saigon Hi-Tech Park in Thu Duc City, said police said it was difficult to track loan sharks because they use unused SIM cards. recorded and fake social media accounts. .
Tran Thi Dieu Thuy, president of the HCMC Labor Confederation, said she was aware of the situation and had received many reports from the factories.
The city has a Capital Assistance Fund for the Employment of the Poor (CEP), which offers loans at “very low” interest rates to workers.
However, the demand is “enormous” and the CEP has very limited resources. Thus, workers turn to loan sharks who can be found very easily and lend money with simple and quick procedures, Hoa said.
Advertisements promoting a loan shark service are plastered under a sign prohibiting littering on a metro pier in Thu Duc city, June 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
In a June meeting with workers across the country that was streamed live, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh called on the central bank to come up with measures that make available bank capital easily accessible to those in need. to prevent them from falling prey to loan sharks.
He also asked the Ministry of Public Security to act quickly against those who break the regulations and prevent consequences affecting the economy and workers.
It was said at the meeting that over the past three years, the ministry has handled more than 2,700 cases involving nearly 5,000 people and prosecuted nearly 2,000 cases with 4,000 defendants. Workers were the victims in more than 1,000 cases.
Chief Lt. Gen. Luong Tam Quang, deputy minister of public security, said loan sharks were committing very “sophisticated” crimes under the guise of companies offering financial support services.
“There are cases in which the interest rate is 90-100% per month and even up to 700-1000% per month; and the loan sharks generally threaten, terrorize and appropriate the assets when the borrowers fail to make payments by the due dates,” he said.