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A specialist team are set to launch a crack down on loan sharks operating in Poole, encouraging anyone who has been a victim of this crime to come forward.
Borough of Poole has invited the England Illegal Money Lending Team to work in partnership with local Trading Standards officers, bringing illegal money lenders to justice.
The Team will investigate loan sharking and any related activity, prosecuting offenders through the courts. In the past the Team have secured convictions for drugs offences, blackmail, violence, rape and other offences linked to the illegal lending. They have already secured more than 210 prosecutions leading to 130 years worth of prison sentences, written off almost £40million worth of illegal debt and helped over 18,000 victims.
Loan sharks operate illegally; making their victims lives a misery. They often trap people into spiralling debt and resort to the most extreme methods such as violence threats or intimidation to pressure victims into paying back.
Nationally there are an estimated 310,000 households borrowing from illegal money lenders. With a lack of paperwork, they keep their victims in the dark about how much they owe and will charge exorbitant interest rates - in some cases in excess of 130,000% APR.
An event to mark the launch is being held on Tuesday 3rd July 2012 introduced by Councillor Xena Dion.
The launch will be attended by staff from various local organisations including trading standards, local housing providers, credit unions, children's centre's, the CAB and Job Centre Plus, giving them the opportunity to learn more about the impact illegal lending can have.
Catherine Williams, LIAISE Manager for the Team will host a presentation which highlights exactly what an illegal lender is and the support which is available if people believe one is operating in the community.
Cllr Xena Dion, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for the Environment, Borough of Poole, said:
"People who lend money outside the legal framework often target people who aren't able to get loans from banks and other bonafide money lenders. Sadly, the people who might be the worst off, financially, then pay the biggest price for borrowing money as the interest rates are unregulated and extortionate. We would urge people to seek proper help and advice before contacting loan sharks and not to be tempted by what seems like an easy solution. The consequences of illegal loans can be life long misery - it just isn't worth it."
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said
"Illegal lenders not only rip people off with extortionate rates of interest but resort to the most despicable methods to enforce their debts. We are sending out a clear message that this will not be tolerated.
We would urge anyone affected by illegal money lending to call our confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222 as we can help."
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text 'loan shark + your message' to 60003
Log-on to www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks
Private message us on Facebook www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject