A 48-year-old Singaporean man wrote to a local newspaper telling how his family was harassed by loan sharks after their 40-year-old Indonesian domestic worker failed to return to work after taking annual leave in her home country.

The employer, surnamed Lee, a salesman, hired the worker named Lisa from Indonesia in 2017 to care for his 82-year-old mother, the Lianhe Wanbao (Singapore) reported.

On April 1, Lisa said she must return home to be with her father, who she said had been admitted to intensive care unit in hospital. The Lee family quickly bought her a ferry ticket to Batam Island for April 3, and she promised to resume work after one week.

However, only two hours after her departure, Lee received a threatening call from a loan shark demanding that he pay off a loan of S$500 (US$367) on behalf of the Indonesian woman, or else the caller would chain up the gate at their home and splash it with paint as a warning.

The employer could no longer reach Lisa as the phone number she gave him was no longer in use, prompting him to seek help from her employment agent, who also failed in attempts to contact the worker.

Lee’s elderly mother also received two calls from illicit moneylenders, leading Lee to estimate that his former employee had owed debts to various parties of at least S$2,380 (US$1,749).

Lee, noting that he had treated his employee like family, recalled that he had issued Lisa salary advances three times in June 2018, February 2019 and last month. Each time it was due to her claiming that her parents were severely ill.

An Indonesian domestic worker who worked next door to Lee also told the newspaper that she had fallen victim to Lisa, who had convinced her that her father was seriously ill and subsequently borrowed a total of S$800 before disappearing.