A MURAL warning families about the dangers of using loan sharks has been unveiled in Blackpool.
The Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) – a specialist unit that investigate and prosecute loan sharks – have been working with Great Places Housing Group tenants and local artist Shane Johnstone to create a fish themed mural warning others against borrowing from loan sharks.
The mural project – funded using £5,000 of proceeds of crime money – highlights the dangers of using loan sharks and the help and support available to victims.
The mural appears on the side of Talbot and Brunswick Sports Barn; it features the IMLT 24-hour helpline number (0300 555 2222) and website (www.stoploansharks.co.uk). Victims and worried family members can call the team anonymously or in confidence to report a loan shark.
Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said:
“Loan sharks are criminals who prey on vulnerable communities and fleece their victims out of hard earned cash, often through intimidation and violence.
“The mural project has been a real success; the artwork aims to help residents who are in the clutches of a loan shark to come forward and report. We’d urge residents to only borrow from safe and ethical lenders, such as Clevr Money Credit Union and not turn to unscrupulous loan sharks.”
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. Many loan sharks will resort to bullying tactics, such as intimidation, threats and even violence to enforce repayment.
Katherine Michaels, Community Development Co-ordinator at Great Places Housing Group, said:
“We’re delighted to unveil the finished mural and hope it will make a great difference in Blackpool to tackle the issue of loan sharking.
“The IMLT hotline number is now on display for all to see, with the team being available 24/7, 365 days a year. We hope that through taking a creative approach to this awareness campaign, we can really engage people to learn more about this issue, and make use of the fantastic resources available that offer safe and affordable loans, such as the Clevr Money Credit Union.”
For more information on how to become a member of Clevr Money Credit Union, visit www.clevr.money/join-us.
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Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 380 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 328 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £72.5 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 27,000 people.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text a report to 078600 22116
Visit the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject