Harassed by loansharks, even in hospital

EVEN as she was in hospital fighting for her life, the loan sharks allegedly refused to leave her alone.

About five of them turned up at the hospital and lurked outside her room.

One of them even asked her family over the phone if she was dead.

A former hawker, who was identified only as Madam Lee, 62, had slit her wrist and swallowed as many as 60 pills last Friday .

She was apparently distraught over alleged harassment by loan sharks, reported Lianhe Wanbao.

Her daughter, Ms Wen, a housewife in her 40s, said that more than 10 loan sharks had called her mother's handphone demanding payment that day.

She informed them that her mother had been hospitalised and pleaded with them to leave her alone.

But it seems they did not.

Said Ms Wen: 'I was at my mother's bedside when I saw these suspicious-looking men outside the room. About five of them came one after another and they all kept glaring at us.'

She claimed that one of the men even called up after he left the hospital and asked: 'Is your mother dead yet?'

Madam Lee's dealings with the loan sharks began two years ago when she borrowed $10,000 to set up a noodle stall.

She managed to cope with the repayments initially.

But the business did not do as well as she had expected.

Hoping for a change in fortune, she switched to selling economy rice. But that did not do well either.

She ended up taking loans from other loan sharks to pay off her first loan.

Before she knew it, she found herself owing as much as $100,000 to more than 30 loan sharks.

Madam Lee had spoke about her predicament to Lianhe Wanbao earlier.

'Just this month, the loan sharks have been calling me non-stop asking for payment,' she said.

'They've been calling me about a hundred times a day, and I've been so stressed. I really don't know how to deal with them.'

In that interview, Madam Lee also said that she was living in fear as the loan sharks had allegedly even threatened to harm her neighbours and friends.

Friends in trouble, too

She added that two of her friends who came to know of her plight had agreed to be her guarantor and that they had even borrowed money from loan sharks to help repay her loans.

Now, the loan sharks are allegedly after them too.

'They've threatened to lock my friends' doors and have been calling them (her friends) to harass them,' she said.

Madam Lee said that there was hardly any money in her bank account and she no longer had the means to continue running her stall.

She said that Ms Wen - her only child - and her husband, an odd-job worker, were unable to help her repay her debts.

The harassment got so bad that Madam Lee could neither eat nor sleep, said Ms Wen.

Ms Wen said that her mother lost 20kg from her 50kg frame and looked like 'a bag of bones'.

Final blow

The last straw was when one of the loan sharks contacted her last Thursday and told her to pay up $20,000 within a day.

Madam Lee said she could not come up with the money and begged them to let her off.

She was then allegedly told: 'We won't pursue it only if you're dead.'

Ms Wen said her mother, who lives with her, appeared to be in low spirits that night.

She said that she got up from bed at around 6.30pm the next day to find her mother lying motionless in the living room.

She suspected that something was amiss when her mother did not respond to her.

When she switched on the light, she got a shock.

'Her body was cold and her face was pale. No matter how I shouted and called out to her, she did not respond,' said Ms Wen.

She then called for an ambulance, which took her mother to a hospital.

Madam Lee remained unconscious for two days and woke up only on Sunday.

But she is still weak.

Meanwhile, apart from the loan sharks who have gone to the hospital, some other loan sharks have also turned their attention to Madam Lee's friends.

One friend who visited her at the hospital last Sunday afternoon claimed that after Madam Lee was hospitalised, one of the loan sharks had splashed paint on her (the friend's) front door.


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