A 33-year-old man has been charged with illegal money lending following an investigation in Reading.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) worked in partnership with officers from Thames Valley Police to execute a warrant at an address early on Wednesday, August 16.
Documentation, electronic devices and other property was seized.
The suspect was arrested and later charged with illegal money lending and bailed to appear before magistrates in due course.
The IMLT works in partnership with Reading Trading Standards to investigate and prosecute illegal money lenders.
Tony Quigley, head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “We will not tolerate illegal money lending in any form. It is a blight on communities and lives, and we urge anyone who has any information about illegal lending or thinks they might be a victim to contact us.
“If you have been offered a cash loan by someone who appears to be a friend, been threatened when you can’t pay or if what you owe is growing even though you are making repayments you may well have been targeted by an illegal lender.
“If you or anyone you know has experienced anything like this, get in touch with us for support and advice before it gets worse.”
In a report published last year, Swimming with Sharks, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) revealed there could be up to 1.08 million people in debt to loan sharks in England.
Many face threats and intimidation, with some illegal lenders demanding sexual favours as repayment from borrowers.
Many loan sharks appear friendly on the first meeting, and may even be known to the victim, but the IMLT is urging people to look out for the following warning signs:
Anyone with concerns about illegal money lending can contact the Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 Helpline in confidence on 0300 555 2222 or access support online at www.stoploansharks.co.uk. Live Chat is available on the website between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Issued by Sally-Anne Youll, IMLT press officer. For media enquiries, please email Sally-Anne.Youll@birmingham.gov.uk or call 07840 712850.
Notes to editors:
The Illegal Money Lending Teams in England, Scotland and Wales work alongside the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to investigate those operating within the consumer credit market without the appropriate authorisation.
The Illegal Money Lending Teams in England and Wales work in partnership with local Trading Standards Authorities in their related countries. They consist of specialist officers who investigate and prosecute illegal money lending and related activity and LIAISE officers who support victims and raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders.