A specialist team is launching a crack down on loan sharks operating in Nottinghamshire, encouraging anyone who has been a victim of this crime to come forward.
Nottinghamshire County Council has invited the England Illegal Money Lending Team to work in partnership with local Trading Standards officers, bringing illegal money lenders to justice.
The team will investigate loan sharking and any related activity, prosecuting offenders through the courts. In the past the Team have secured convictions for drugs offences, blackmail, violence, rape and other offences linked to the illegal lending. They have already secured more than 212 prosecutions leading to 132 years worth of prison sentences, written off almost £40million worth of illegal debt and helped over 18,000 victims.
Loan sharks operate illegally; making their victims lives a misery. They often trap people into spiralling debt and resort to the most extreme methods such as violence threats or intimidation to pressure victims into paying back.
Nationally there are an estimated 310,000 households borrowing from illegal money lenders. With a lack of paperwork, they keep their victims in the dark about how much they owe and will charge exorbitant interest rates – in some cases in excess of 130,000% APR.
An event to mark the launch was attended by staff from various local organisations including local housing providers, credit unions, children’s centres, the CAB, police, district councils and Job Centre Plus, giving them the opportunity to learn more about the impact illegal lending can have.
Catherine Williams, LIAISE manager for the team, hosted a presentation which highlights exactly what an illegal lender is and the support which is available if people believe one is operating in the community.
Coun Mick Murphy, Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Community Safety Committee, said: “Loan shark victims often feel helpless and do not realise their loan is from a money lender who is breaking the law.
“We encourage people not to suffer in silence and our Trading Standards team will be working with the England Illegal Money Lending Team to bring these ruthless lenders to justice.”
Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said “Illegal lenders not only rip people off with extortionate rates of interest but resort to the most despicable methods to enforce their debts. We are sending out a clear message that this will not be tolerated.
“We would urge anyone affected by illegal money lending to call our confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222 as we can help.”
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003
Log-on to www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks
Private message us on Facebook www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject