Soap storyline raises awareness of the dangers of loan sharks

Loan shark Rick threatens Gary Windass is tonight’s episode of Coronation Street

Soap favourite, Coronation Street has a storyline starting tonight (Friday 29) involving a violent illegal money lender.

In upcoming scenes, Rick Neelan terrorises local residents in Weatherfield, including troubled Gary Windass who is struggling with money woes.

Gary secretly takes out a loan from villainous Rick, however soon finds himself carrying out the illegal lender’s dirty work in lieu of payment.

Tony Quigley, head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “We’re really pleased that another television soap is raising awareness of the perils of illegal money lenders. This is an important issue and has a devastating impact on communities, leaving many vulnerable people in a spiral of debt and misery. We hope the storyline encourages more victims to speak out as this will allow us to take action against these illegal crooks.”

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) investigates and prosecutes illegal money lenders while supporting those who have borrowed money from them.

An illegal money lender is someone who runs a money lending business without the correct authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

As highlighted in tonight’s episode of Coronation Street, illegal money lenders rarely offer paperwork and keep their borrowers in the dark as to how much they owe, how much longer they have to pay and how much interest they are paying on top of their loan.

In gritty scenes, Rick threatens to increase Gary’s debt if he doesn’t keep up with the repayments.  Illegal money lenders generally start out friendly at first, but their behaviour can change when payments are missed. Many also resort to intimidation, threats and violence to frighten victims into paying.

An estimated 310,000 households are borrowing from illegal money lenders and the highest interest seen by one of these criminals was 4.5 million per cent APR.

The IMLT works with councils, police and partner agencies across the country to gather intelligence  and execute warrants on suspected illegal money lenders.

Nationally the IMLT has secured more than 380 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity leading to over 330 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off over £74 million worth of illegal debt and helped in excess of 28,000 victims.

If you are being threatened by an illegal money lender or have any information or concerns about this crime, contact us or get advice and support here.

Coronation Street continues tonight at 7.30pm on ITV