A 59-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending following an operation in Leeds.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) worked in partnership with officers from West Yorkshire Police to execute a warrant at addresses in the Beeston area today (22 November 2023).
The suspect was taken into custody and is helping investigators from the IMLT with their inquiries. Officers seized electronic devices and documentation from the address.
The IMLT works in partnership with West Yorkshire Trading Standards to investigate and prosecute illegal money lenders.
Tony Quigley, head of the IMLT, said:
“We are determined to tackle the scourge of illegal money lending in England and we will continue to work with our partners across the country to take action.
“If you think you have been targeted by an illegal lender, you can contact our team in complete confidence for specialist support and advice.”
The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) estimates there are up to 1.08 million people in debt to loan sharks in England.
The signs of a loan shark include being offered a cash loan with no paperwork, being asked to hand over items like bank cards or a passport until the money is repaid, having interest or costs added so that the amount borrowed never goes down and being threatened or intimidated if you can’t pay.
Anyone with concerns about illegal money lending can contact the Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 helpline in confidence on 0300 555 2222 or access support online at www.stoploansharks.co.uk. Live Chat is available on the website between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Loan sharks have many faces – make sure you know who’s behind the mask
What does a loan shark look like to you?
The chances are the image that springs to mind is the TV soap gangster. But in reality they are not always that easy to spot. They could just as easily be that neighbour who always stops to chat, a parent who you know from the school gate, a popular work colleague, even a long-standing family friend.
The one thing they have in common is that they are expert manipulators and masters of deception, often befriending victims and offering a quick-fix loan.
And with Christmas fast approaching they may be more active than usual, aware that with the cost-of-living crisis, people may be under increasing financial pressure.
Victims often aren’t aware that they have borrowed from a loan shark until it’s too late. Things can quickly turn nasty as they demand extortionate repayments and issue threats of violence when you can’t pay.
Figures from the England Illegal Money Lending Team, an organisation that works in partnership with trading standards authorities to investigate and prosecute illegal lenders and support victims, show that in the first half of 2023, 56 per cent of the people it worked with said they thought they were borrowing from a friend.
But there are warning signs to look out for, and alternatives available for those who need access to affordable credit but who might have been turned down by the mainstream banks.
What is a loan shark?
A loan shark is another term for an illegal money lender – someone who lends money and asks for repayments, but who does not have the necessary authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Why do people turn to loan sharks?
Often someone may be looking for a small amount over a short period to cover unexpected expenses. They may have been refused credit elsewhere and need cash at short notice. In the cost-of-living crisis, more people are being forced to borrow to cover basic living costs such as bills and food.
What are the warning signs that someone is a loan shark?
There are a number of giveaways that indicate the person you are borrowing from is not a legitimate lender.
They can include:
- You are given no paperwork or details about the loan
- The lender demands repayments that add up to much more than you initially borrowed
- They intimidate or threaten you if you struggle to pay
- They demand you hand over items like bank cards or a passport until you can pay
Where can I go to borrow money if I have been turned down by the banks?
Credit unions offer an alternative, ethical and safe way of borrowing for people who may have been refused credit elsewhere. They can offer small loans at affordable rates. Visit www.leedscreditunion.co.uk
What should I do if I think I have been targeted by a loan shark?
Contact the England Illegal Money Lending Team. There is a host of information on its website www.stoploansharks.co.uk.
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text a report to 078600 22116
Join a live chat on the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk
Private message on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject
Remember you have done nothing wrong if you have borrowed from a loan shark. It is the lender who has committed a crime.
This post is based on a press release issued by Stop Loan Sharks
Photo: stock image of an IMLT officer
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