A man has been arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering following an operation in Oldham and Wigan.
The 25-year-old man was taken into custody as part of the operation by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), Greater Manchester Police and trading standards officers from Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council and Wigan Council, and remains under investigation for loan sharking offences.
Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Illegal money lenders prey on the vulnerable within our communities, with victims faced with spiralling debt, extortionate interest rates and the very real threat of intimidation. We will continue to work with our partners to crack down on this crime.”
An estimated 310,000 households nationally are borrowing from illegal money lenders, many of whom charge exorbitant rates of interest to trap people into a spiral of debt.
Julie Middlehurst, Regulatory Services Manager at Wigan Council, said: “We will not tolerate people who target our vulnerable residents and exploit them in this way. We hope this sends a clear message to others that we are actively working with our partners to stop loan sharks and bring them to justice.”
Helen Lockwood, Deputy Chief Executive of Oldham Council, said: “Sadly loan sharks operate in Oldham, like they do in all towns and cities across the country.
“These people prey on our vulnerable residents and cause misery in communities. They fleece their victims and often use intimidation and violence.
“With Christmas coming up residents may be tempted to turn to loan sharks. But please don’t – what may seem like a small loan to pay for presents or to tide you over, could end up costing you for years to come.
“The council will not allow this bullying and criminal behaviour and we will continue to work with our partners to target those who think they can get away with it.”
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 394 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 480 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £74.9 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 29,000 people.
To report a loan shark, call the 24/7 confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222, text a report to 078600 22116 or visit the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk