31/03/2017

Don’t Fall Victim of a Loan Shark! Report Them Now!

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) are urging residents in Swindon to come forward and report a loan shark if they or someone they know (a colleague, family member or friend) has been a victim.

A loan shark is someone who lends money illegally without the correct authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Loan sharks normally appear friendly at first, but this behaviour soon changes once monies are owed.

It’s easy to fall in to the grips of a loan shark, they seem like friendly people at first, someone who you might refer to as a ‘mate’ or a ‘close colleague’. If you are struggling to pay a bill, or need a bit of extra cash to fix a broken appliance, they are the first to cover your back and offer you a quick cash loan. The truth is that once you take out this cash loan, you may end up paying back significantly more than you think. You will left in the dark, not knowing much how much money you owe or the amount of interest you’re being charged on that particular loan as often no paperwork is given.

Mike was only 17 when he first got involved with a loan shark. He borrowed £250 from Peter to purchase his first car, and made an agreement to pay Peter back in instalments until the loan was repaid. It was only after Mike made a few payments that Peter mentioned additional interest. Mike wasn’t expecting the extra charges and found it difficult to repay Peter, so Peter offered him a further loan to pay off the first.

This became a cycle and continued over the next two decades, which Mike described as ‘sheer hell’. He was trapped by Peter in a never ending spiral of debt, and struggled to support his family, despite working two jobs. Mike would attempt to make large repayments but his outstanding balance would never drop below £9000. Mike is a prime example of how loan sharks can have a hugely detrimental impact on the lives of victims, causing them untold misery. Over the years, Mike paid a staggering £90,000 to the loan shark, all from an initial loan of £250.

“Being involved with a loan shark affected my relationship with my wife and kids. We were left with nothing after paying back Peter. Every Friday and Saturday he was sat outside my work, demanding repayments. If I finished work later than usual, the loan shark would text me saying ‘It’s payday, where are you?’ The whole experience was a living nightmare.” – Mike, A loan shark victim supported by the England Illegal Money Lending Team.

We know it can sometimes be scary to ask for help, but if you call the England Illegal Money Lending Team’s hotline on 0300 555 2222, you can speak to a member of the team anonymously or in confidence. They are there to help, not judge, and will let you know what your options are so you can decide what to do.

In some cases, loan sharks have been known to resort to the most extreme methods to enforce repayment from borrowers. This has involved victims being subject to intimidation, threats and violence, leaving many frightened to leave their own home.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) can help people who have been a victim of a loan shark. The national team are a law enforcement agency who work with local Trading Standards authorities across the country to investigate and prosecute illegal money lending and related offences. The team have previously prosecuted loan sharks for other forms of criminality, including drug offences, kidnap and even rape.

The 50-strong team are made up of Investigators who work endlessly to bring loan sharks to justice and LIAISE officers who protect and support victims, and work with a number of partner agencies to raise general awareness of the issue.

IMLT have secured more than 370 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 320 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off nearly £72 million worth of illegal debt and have helped over 27,000 victims.

Residents are urged to never borrow money from someone if they:

• Have been provided with no or very little paperwork on loans

• Have had debts randomly increase or have had additional amounts added to a loan unexpectedly

• Have personal items taken as security on a loan (passport, driving license, bank cards)

• Have received intimidation and threats by a money lender.

Residents can check if someone is authorised to lend money by visiting the Financial Conduct Authority’s website and searching for a company, person or postcode through their Financial Services Register

To report a loan shark:

• Call the 24-hour confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222

• Text a report to 078600 22116

• Visit the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk

Email reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk

• Private message the team at www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject

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