Suspected loan shark arrested following operation in Leeds
Issued on behalf of the England Illegal Money Lending Team
A 45 year old man has been arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending, following an operation in Leeds this morning.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) working in partnership with West Yorkshire Joint Services Trading Standards and West Yorkshire Police executed a warrant at an address in Middleton, Leeds and the suspect is currently in custody being questioned by officers from the team.
Following this arrest The IMLT is appealing for information about illegal money lending in the Leeds area.
Jacqui Kennedy, Head of the IMLT said:
“We understand how difficult it can be for people to come forward, but we would like to reassure the public that there is help available. Loan sharks will exploit and extort their borrowers and often resort to the most extreme methods to enforce repayment. We will not tolerate this, and working to bring justice to offenders.
“Any piece of information, no matter how small, can make a real difference in ridding our communities of this crime. We know that illegal money lending is happening in Leeds but we need victims to come forward and speak to the team to create strong evidence in order to take the investigation further. If you can help us please call 0300 555 2222 where your call will be treated in the strictest confidence”
Loan sharks will usually appear friendly at first but quickly trap their borrowers into spiralling debt. They operate without a licence and are committing a criminal offence. The public are urged to avoid and report lenders who:
Offer little or no paperwork;
Are unclear on the terms of the loan;
Increase the debt or add additional amounts at random;
Take items as security including passports and bank cards and;
Resort to threats, violence and intimidation to enforce the loan.
People who have been the victim of a loan shark have not committed a crime. Debts from an illegal money lender are unenforceable without an order from the court.
Inspector Jon Arrowsuch of West Yorkshire Police, who heads the Inner South Neighbourhood Policing Team, said:
"Protecting local communities from harm is our top priority and we work closely alongside our partner agencies to achieve that end.
"Loan sharks often prey on some of the most vulnerable in society and we simply cannot tolerate those who operate illegal money lending businesses backed up by threats and intimidation."
Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member responsible for communities said:
“We are very pleased to be working in partnership with the Illegal money lending team, trading standards and the police to crack down on these unscrupulous people. We want victims of loan sharks to know that they are not alone. In Leeds we are working hard to raise awareness of alternative forms of lending, such as credit unions, so people in desperate situations don’t feel they have to turn to loan sharks.”
David Lodge Head of Service at West Yorkshire Trading Standards said:
“We are working in partnership with the England Illegal Money Lending Team to crack down on loan sharks and make clear that this is a crime that will not be tolerated. Loan sharks can cause misery for their victims, but there is help available and we would urge anyone with any information on illegal money lending activity to call the hotline in confidence”
Leeds City Council and the IMLT are also today unveiling a new video featuring a Leeds man who suffered at the hands of local loan sharks and is now living a new life away from threats and poverty. He tells his story here www.leeds.gov.uk/leedsmic and urges people who are have borrowed from illegal lenders to come forward for help.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject
Notes to editors:
For more information contact Dave Benbow, England Illegal Money Lending Team LIAISE Manager on 07557203257 or email David.A.Benbow@birmingham.gov.uk.To speak to the National Trading Standards Board with a more general enquiry please call 020 7025 7570 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.