The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) have launched a short story competition to encourage people to exercise their creative writing skills while learning about the dangers of loan sharks.
Entrants must write a short story or poem of no more than 1,250 words, which may be fiction or non-fiction and be related to a loan shark category below. Those entering are also invited to submit an original illustration to accompany their story, if they want to.
Loan sharks are illegal and operate without the correct permission from the Financial Conduct Authority. They gain control over their victims – sometimes through threats and intimidation, sometimes through much subtler means.
Loan sharks charge extortionate interest and rarely provide paperwork on the loans they give out. Some will even take bank, benefit or post office cards with PIN numbers to withdraw directly from people’s accounts, leaving their victims with very little to get by on.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “We hope this competition encourages people to express themselves, but more importantly find out more about loan sharks, how to recognise the signs and where to get help if they have been a victim.
“The tactics used by loan sharks can vary from a friend offering to lend you some money until payday and charging you interest to a social media advert promoting quick cash loans with no checks. It’s important we remain vigilant to illegal money lenders and report any suspicious activity.”
A panel will assess the stories and pick their favourite from each category. These will be turned into audio stories and played during National Stop Loan Sharks Week 2020. They will then stay on the Stop Loan Sharks podcast platform for people to download and enjoy.
The winner of each category will win a £50 Amazon voucher. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
Entries to the competition will close at midnight on Friday 16th October 2020.
Please send submissions to Catherine.firstname.lastname@example.org or via post to:
Cath Wohlers, England Illegal Money Lending Team, PO Box 12971, Birmingham , B33 3BD
Category 1 – The “Friend of a friend”
This loan shark is known to everyone in the community in which they live. They went to school there, work there, drink there, socialise there. They may:
Category 2 – The Football Hooligan
This loan shark is feared. They control the estate. They threaten people who do not pay. They may:
Category 3 – The “Businessman”
This loan shark has an air of being official. They may:
Category 4 – An Online Search
This loan shark operates over the internet – via Craigslist/Snapchat/Buy and Sell pages/dating sites. They wait for people to approach them and offer loans. They may:
Category 5 – A New Arrival
This loan shark targets people as they arrive to work in England. They may:
Category 6 – The Covid-19 “groomer”
This loan shark may befriend their potential victims by offering to shop for them, post parcels or call them regularly for a chat. They may:
Category 7 – The Work Colleague
They may be a colleague at the same level or even a manager with power over individuals.