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In the Spotlight with Tony Quigley of the England Illegal Money Lending Team

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In the Spotlight with Tony Quigley of the England Illegal Money Lending Team

Tony Quigley of the England Illegal Money Lending Team gives us an insight into the loan shark industry...


1) Firstly, what exactly does the Illegal Money Lending Team do?

The Illegal Money Lending Team investigates and prosecutes illegal money lenders across England, for offences under the provisions of the Consumer Credit Act and any related offences. In the past this has included everything from drugs offences, intimidation, blackmail, violence and even rape.
 
2) Why is it so important to be vigilant about illegal lending or loan sharks?

Illegal lenders often prey on the most vulnerable members of society. They will trap their victims into a spiral of debt by charging exorbitant rates of interest and extra arbitrary amounts. Once victims are unable to pay, many loan sharks will resort to bully tactics to enforce repayments- violence, threats and intimidation. We have seen many people living in misery and fear because of the impact illegal money lenders can have.
 
3) How do you help people that are in debt?

Debts from illegal money lenders are not enforceable in law, so once an illegal money lender is caught the victims do not have to repay that debt. We have a team of LIAISE (Leads in awareness intelligence support and education) Officers, working across the country to support victims and where applicable refer victims to partner agencies which can help such as debt advice agencies and credit unions.
 
4) What kind of arrests have you made?

We have secured more than 190 prosecutions for illegal money lenders,     leading to custodial sentences totalling 113 years, plus an indefinite sentence for public protection. We have dealt with large scale lenders who were making a considerable profit, and community lenders who had less ‘customers’ but were still having a detrimental impact. We use proceeds of crime legislation to confiscate the illegal profits, hitting loan sharks where it hurts and then ploughing this money back into communities affected.
 
5) Where do you operate?

As of April 1 2011, our team covers the whole of England. Prior to this there were regional Illegal Money Lending Teams, however the officers from those teams now work for the England team maintaining the level of experience and skills. We work alongside Illegal Money Lending Teams in Scotland and Wales to form the Stop Loan Sharks Project.
 
6) What advice would you give people who are being threatened by loan sharks?

We would urge anyone affected by loan sharks to call our confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222. Lines are open 24/7 and are answered by a trained investigator. Alternatively if you prefer you can text loan shark and your message to 60003 or email reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk
 
7) Could you give us an insight into how you find out about illegal money lenders – where do you get your tips?

We receive calls through our hotline – often anonymously and we work very closely with partner agencies such as housing associations, the Police, CABs and community groups.
 
8) Do you think there is any indication that illegal money lenders are decreasing?

The latest statistics estimate 310,000 households nationally are borrowing from loan sharks, although it is difficult to tell whether this is increasing or decreasing as we have no baseline to work from. What we do know is that illegal lending is a problem in all our communities. We want to make clear that illegal money lending is not a community service and will not be tolerated.
 
9) What inspired you to become part of the Illegal Money Lending Team – if you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?

It’s very easy to become passionate about this area of criminality because of the impact that it has on people, especially the most vulnerable members of our communities. I have been working in enforcement for 28 years so if I wasn’t working for the England Illegal Money Lending Team, I would be heading up another enforcement team in another part of regulatory services, still tackling criminal activity.

 

 





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