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Loan sharks see £62m vanish

Loan sharks see £62m vanish

The Stop Loan Sharks Project has secured 321 prosecutions for illegal money lending. These have consequently led to over 205 years’ worth of custodial sentences being granted.

The project which consists of Illegal Money Lending Teams in England, Scotland and Wales, specialising in investigating and prosecuting illegal money lenders, has written off almost £62 million worth of illegal debt and assisted more than 24,907 victims.

Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, Tony Quigley, has warned the public that no matter how much you are struggling financially loan sharks are not the answer.

“They are motivated only by their own greed and are not offering you a service, these criminals should always be avoided at all costs,” he said.

The Stop Loan Sharks Project has increased the drive over the festive period due to the prediction that loan sharks will exploit those struggling financially over Christmas. Also, 20 per cent of victims in past cases revealed that the borrowing occurred in order to finance the season’s activities.   

“In the run up to Christmas many people can feel under pressure to borrow money to buy extravagant presents,” said a National Trading Standards Board spokesperson.

“By turning to the wrong people for loans, unfortunately what should be a happy time can quickly turn into a dreadful one.”

A large amount of cases saw friends or family members introduce the victims to the lenders only to see the firm’s behaviour switch quickly.

Loan sharks tend to omit paperwork and lean towards being vague on the loan’s terms.

Borrowers which have handed over their bank card and PIN have been known to completely lose control of their finances.

“They could easily ruin your Christmas and you could be subjected to years of harassment, paying back your loan several times over,” said Tony Quigley.

“We’d recommend credit unions as a safe and legal alternative- visit to find your nearest one. “

“Loan sharks are dangerous and victimise the most vulnerable in society; individuals should never approach them for help, no matter what their situation it will not be worth it,” National Trading Standards added.

“We continue to support the work of the ‘Stop Loan Sharks Project’, and urge people to take heed of this important message this Christmas.”

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