Participation in a criminal loan operation brought a Quincy woman to court. The latter was accused of preying on Everett bettors by offering them high-interest loans.
Suspected loan shark arrested
Kimanh Le, a 50-year-old woman from Quincy, was charged with participating in a loan operation outside of the Encore Boston Harbor Casino. She was arrested at the scene on April 10 and later charged with four counts of criminal usury, local law enforcement reported.
The prosecution claims that Le was offering 5% interest per day or 10% interest per week – figures that far exceed the Bay State’s maximum annual interest rate (20%). The complaints added that Le offered cash and token loans, preying on people suffering from gambling addiction.
The prosecution added that the illegal loan shark scheme also allegedly has operations in Suffolk and Norfolk counties.
Le pleaded not guilty to the charges, after which the judge Michael Doolin agreed to release her on several conditions. The Attorney General’s Office Maura Healey explained that Le had to surrender his passport and stay in Massachusetts. The woman should not meet with any of the witnesses in the case and should stay away from the Encore Boston Harbor Casino.
The will appear in Suffolk Superior Court for a pre-hearing conference on June 24.
Loan sharking puts problem gamblers at risk
Massachusetts officials have commented on the matter, pointing out that instances of lending with absurdly high interest rates are considered loan sharking and, by extension, a crime. Healey’s office added that loan sharks often target vulnerable people such as those in poor financial condition, problem gamblers and those who are suspicious of legal sources of credit.
It should be noted that since loan sharks cannot legally force customers to repay their debts, loan sharks often resort to threats and blackmail. This makes these operations very dangerous for the vulnerable groups they target.
Gambling has steadily grown in popularity in the United States, with more and more states introducing new forms of betting, such as sports betting, online sports betting, iGaming, and more. Massachusetts is also considering the legalization of sports betting although it has not yet implemented it.
As the gambling market grows, it becomes increasingly important to combat gambling fraud, match-fixing in sports, money laundering and compulsive gambling. The management of loan sharking should be taken seriously as it harms vulnerable gamblers and feeds their unhealthy gambling habits.
On an unrelated note, Massachusetts gambling sites seem to have other issues as well. A recent report showed that gaming workers from minority groups have suffered the most from the pandemic.