Participation in a criminal loansharking operation has gotten a woman from Quincy to court. The latter was accused of preying upon Everett bettors by offering them high-interest loans.
Alleged Loan Shark Gets Arrested
Kimanh Le, a 50-years-old woman from Quincy, was accused of participating in a loansharking operation outside of the Encore Boston Harbor Casino. She was arrested at the venue on April 10 and was subsequently indicted on four accounts of criminal usury, local law enforcers reported.
The prosecution claims that Le offered 5% interest per day or 10% interest per week – numbers that far exceed the Bay State’s maximum annual interest rate (20%). The complaints added that Le offered loans both in cash and in chips, preying on people who suffer from gambling addiction.
The prosecution added that the illegal loan sharking scheme allegedly has operations in the Suffolk and Norfolk counties as well.
Le pleaded not guilty to the charges, after which Judge Michael Doolin agreed to release her on several conditions. The office of attorney general Maura Healey explained that Le was required to surrender her passport and remain in Massachusetts. The woman must not meet with any of the witnesses in the case and must stay away from the Encore Boston Harbor Casino.
Le will appear before the Suffolk Superior Court for a pretrial conference on June 24.
Loansharking Endangers Problem Gamblers
Massachusetts officials commented on the matter, emphasizing that instances of loans with absurdly high-interest rates are considered loansharking and, by extension, a crime. Healey’s office added that loan sharks often target vulnerable people such as people in a bad financial state, problem gamblers, and those who are distrustful of the legal credit sources.
It is worth noting that since loansharking cannot legally force customers to return their debts, loan sharks often resort to threats and blackmail. This makes such operations very dangerous to the vulnerable groups they target.
Gambling has been steadily growing in popularity in the United States, with more and more states introducing new forms of wagering, such as sports betting, online sports betting, iGaming, etc. Massachusetts is also considering the legalization of sports betting although it has not yet proceeded to implement it.
As the gambling market grows, it becomes increasingly important to deal with gambling fraud, match-fixing in sports, money laundering and problem gambling. Dealing with loansharking should be taken seriously as it harms vulnerable gamblers and nurtures their unhealthy gambling habits.
On an unrelated note, gambling venues in Massachusetts seem to have other problems as well. A recent report showed that gambling workers from minority groups are the ones who got the worst out of the pandemic.