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People reminded of risks of using loan sharks

Posted on Thursday 16th May 2024
Check in with a friend landscape NR

Check in with a friend campaign poster

People in Staffordshire are being reminded of the dangers of using loan sharks in a new campaign.

The ‘No Blame, No Shame’ campaign is the theme for this year’s Stop Loan Sharks Week being organised by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) and being supported by Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards service

Borrowers are being urged to come forward with information about loan sharks, and that they should feel no blame and no shame in doing so.  The campaign launched on Monday 13 May and will run throughout the week.

Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said:

“Loan-sharking is a terrible crime that affects many of our communities and we work closely with our partners to tackle it. 

“These criminals are nasty and usually prey on vulnerable residents. They often intimidate, threaten and trap victims in a cycle of fear and violence.  Lots of victims also feel ashamed of what has happened to them and are too frightened to report it.  In this latest campaign we’re asking people to please get in touch with the team and report incidents, so action can be taken.”

The campaign follows two landmark cases which saw one of the biggest ever confiscation orders and one of the longest jail terms handed to illegal money lenders.  In April, two loan sharks from London were ordered to hand over £1.2 million following an IMLT proceeds of crime hearing. It was the largest amount confiscated in an IMLT case for 14 years.

And only this month, violent loan shark Richard Dawson, who terrorised victims in Barnsley, forcing one to travel to cashpoints in the boot of his car, was jailed for seven years.

Tony Quigley, head of the IMLT, said:

“The borrowers who come forward in all our cases show incredible bravery – to speak up against someone who is bullying and intimidating you is a courageous thing to do.

“These cases show that we can and will take effective and swift action to tackle these criminals, getting them off our streets and making them pay for what they have put people through.  Borrowers should never feel ashamed that they have borrowed – they have done nothing wrong - the lender is the criminal.”

The IMLT is marking its 20th anniversary this year. Its most recent statistics show that borrowers can take over two years since first borrowing to report an illegal lender. That can be because they are gripped by debt, fear and shame and in some cases driven to the brink of despair and even suicide.

The team are the only body in England dedicated to investigating and prosecuting illegal lenders and supporting borrowers. Since it launched in 2004, it has prosecuted over 420 illegal lenders, securing jail terms of more than 600 years. The team has supported over 31,500 people and written off over £91.2 million worth of illegal debt.

Anyone who has been affected by illegal money lending should call 0300 555 2222 or visit the Stop Loan Sharks website.  Live chat is available from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

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