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3 suspected loan sharks arrested

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Communities and also in Finance, Legal

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The England Illegal Money Lending Team (EIMLT) has arrested three suspected loan sharks, as part of a multi-agency operation against organised crime networks.

A 26-year-old in Oldham, a 30-year-old in Stalybridge and a 36-year-old male in Gorton, Manchester have all been taken into custody for questioning.

The EIMLT worked in partnership with Greater Manchester Police, Manchester City Council, Tameside Council and Oldham Council Trading Standards during the operations, and is now appealing for information from anyone who believes they may have borrowed from an illegal money lender.

The EIMLT advises that illegal money lenders will often:

  • Appear friendly at first. 
  • Offer little or no paperwork. 
  • Be unclear on the terms of the loan. 
  • Increase the debt and additional amounts sporadically. 
  • Take items ‘as security’ on the loan. 
  • Use threats, violence and intimidation to enforce the debt.

Jacqui Kennedy, Director of Regulation and Enforcement at Birmingham City Council, oversees the EIMLT. She said: "Illegal money lending is a despicable crime which bleeds communities dry. In many cases, loan sharks profiteer at the expense of their borrowers to fuel other serious criminal activity.

"We are committed to this multi-agency approach to disband organised crime groups and create a climate where communities are empowered and not afraid to come forward to speak out against the loan sharks, who blight their lives.

"We are urging for victims to come forward if they have been a victim of this crime. All of the information we receive is treated in the strictest confidence, and people can remain anonymous if they wish. Every piece of information we receive is valuable and helps to put an end to this despicable crime. We are grateful to those who come forward and we promise to support anyone who has been the victim of a loan shark."

Cllr Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council's executive member for the environment, said: "A lot of people are struggling and, particularly at this time of year, feel they have nowhere else to go but to loan sharks, but I would urge them to contact their local credit union instead.

"For years, illegal money lenders have behaved like they could spread their misery without any fear of reprisal. However, the tide is starting to turn against loan sharks, with many of them now behind bars, and anyone who knows anything about this criminal activity should contact the confidential hotline which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Councillor Jean Stretton, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Devolved Services at Oldham Council, said: “Loan sharks are criminals who prey on vulnerable people and blight communities. They fleece their victims and often use intimidation and even violence.

“Oldham Council will not tolerate this bullying behaviour and we will continue to work with our partners to target those who think they can get away with it.”

The EIMLT has secured 220 prosecutions leading to almost 150 years' worth of custodial sentences, helped more than 19,000 victims and written off illegal debts in excess of £40million.

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