Police in bid to stamp out loan shark terror

South Yorkshire Police Officers
South Yorkshire Police Officers

The real dangers facing people who use illegal money lenders or ‘loan sharks’ to try and ease finances have been stressed by Humberside police.

Business for such unregulated companies is often conducted by word of mouth, say police. But if people do find themselves in a deep and difficult situation, there is help available across the region from a specialist team.

Problems first arise when desperate people who usually have poor credit opportunities are offered money with little or no paperwork to back it up.

A police spokesman said: “Loan sharks trap their victims into paying back many times the original sum – the highest calculated APR being a staggering 131,000 per cent!

“Should payments falter, the once cosy relationship often turns to intimidation, threats and violence with passports, driving licences or bank cards commonly taken as security or to withdraw funds directly from victims’ accounts.”

The worsening situation can then lead to companies building up pressure on the victim and can lead to offences involving drugs, burglary, kidnap and even rape.

As loan sharks operate illegally, criminal methods are generally used to force people to find money from somewhere for payment.

Such activities clearly have a bad effect upon local crime levels where loan sharks operate and a spike in crime can often be seen in areas where they are preying on the public, say police.

The important point to note, however, is that if loans are provided illegally, they are not enforceable in law.

The Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) exists to help those caught in a financial dilemma and will actively seek and successfully prosecute loan sharks using information that is provided to them by the public.

Loan sharks rely on increasing deprivation levels as they provide perfect operating conditions.

To stop this kind of criminal activity, Isle residents and others are asked to contact the IMLT in confidence on 0300 555 2222.