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Case Study: Loan sharks in their natural habitat

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Case Study: Loan sharks in their natural habitat

Whilst a lot of work has gone into changing stereotypical perceptions of the secured lending industry, illegal money lending taints the reputation of legitimate secured lending. The England Illegal Money Lending Team have shared with us a case which demonstrates how devastating illegal money lending can be and differentiates it from legal secured lending. 

 
When Mike* turned 17, all he wanted was his own car.
 
He was approached by Peter* who offered to loan him £250. Mike jumped at the simple loan opportunity he thought Peter was offering and began paying back the loan in instalments.
 
It was only then that Peter mentioned additional interest. Mike wasn’t expecting this and found it difficult to repay, so Peter offered him a further loan to pay off the first.
 
This became a cycle and Mike was stuck in two decades of what he described as ‘sheer hell’. Trapped in a never ending spiral of debt, and working two jobs, Mike struggled to get by. Despite the large repayments he kept making to Peter, the balance was still outstanding and never dropped below £9,000.
 
Over the years Mike paid a staggering £90,000 to the loan shark, all from an initial loan of £250.
 
This had a hugely detrimental impact on Mike and his family. The loan shark attacked Mike in front of his children, he lost his home as he couldn’t pay the mortgage and lost three jobs due to depression. Aged 33, he suffered a stress-related heart attack.
 
On more than one occasion, Mike attempted suicide.
 
“You wouldn’t wish it on anybody,” he said.
 
 “It affected my relationship with my wife. If I wasn’t at work I was home arguing, and it affected the kids. They had nothing.
 
“Every Friday and Saturday Peter would sit outside my work and if I finished late he would send me a text saying ‘It’s payday, where are you?’ It was a living nightmare.”
 
The turning point came when Mike spotted an article in his local paper about a loan shark who had been prosecuted by the Illegal Money Lending Team.
 
Things had turned serious by this point, as Peter has started threatening to harm Mike’s wife. Pushed to breaking point, Mike called the Team’s confidential hotline.
 
From that point forwards he was supported and Peter was prosecuted and imprisoned.
 
“I wish I’d known there was somewhere to go years ago,” Mike said.
 
 “The Team were fantastic, they offered so much support, and every promise they made they delivered. It was such a relief when I found out Peter was arrested and then put in prison. I nearly broke down when the Team rang to tell me.”
 
Mike is now looking to the future, and has a message to anyone in the grips of a loan shark.
 
“I would tell anyone who is borrowing from a loan shark to be confident to stand up and speak out – the Team will support you the whole way. Even a year later they are always there for me, regularly in touch and always on the end of the phone.
 
“Life is absolutely fantastic now – we don’t have to worry about money anymore and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. We are going on holiday as a family for the first time in 17 years – I can’t imagine ever being able to do this before.
 
“Contacting the Team is the best thing I could ever have done. I’m living the life I should be living.”
 
Illegal money lending is a crime, and debts to illegal money lenders are not legally enforceable.
 
Call the England Illegal Money Lending Team in confidence on 0300 555 2222, Lines are open 24/7.
 
         Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 6000 or log on to www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks
*All names have been changed.



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